Naming your new business baby – take special care!


So, here you are, contemplating your fledgling business and feeling slightly overwhelmed by the enormity of it all…

You get advice from everywhere – the interwebs, your friends, your bookkeeper, the taxi driver, your dog. Now, it is completely up to you what you do with most of that advice, but if someone mentioned ‘brand protection’, that’s the bit you should listen to.

You need to choose a name for your new business baby. It’s exactly the same as choosing a name for a human baby. Think carefully before you sadle either with something unforgivable.

We all laugh at some of the celebrity names in the news… Kim Kardashian’s union with Kanye West produced baby North West. The poor child who has to perpetuate the family name of Karel Andries Koekemoer – the acronym, parents! Think!

The other day I came across the trademark VAGIHEX® . This is a medication for vaginal antisepsis. (Sorry if I made you blush and I also have to mention that this is a registered trademark, owned by someone and has a big bulldog IP attorney standing guard over it and no, I claim no rights to this unfortunate trademark so don’t sue me dammit!)

Where was I? Oh yes, VAGIHEX® …Interesting name. I shudder to think what other names were discarded before someone decided that this was the best possible name for their product.

If you are going to be hardcore stoopid and not put thought into your trademark name, your company name or your trading as name, you are going to probably end up crying later. It’s going to get expensive, trying to change at a later stage – you will spend money and lose customers. Even worse, your brand may be so bland that you won’t even get customers to eventually lose.

Milord Keshishian (don’t you just love that name!) from Business Know-How give the following guidelines when deciding upon your business baby name:

(a) Fanciful Trademark – Strong. A fanciful trademark is a made up word that only functions as a trademark or service mark. Pepsi® and Xerox® did not exist in any language before they were chosen as trademarks for drinks and copy machines.

(b) Arbitrary Trademark – Strong. An arbitrary trademark is a word that exists but has no meaning when used on the product itself. “Apple,” when used on computers is a strong trademark because it doesn’t describe a quality or characteristic of the computer.

(c) Suggestive Trademark – Strong. A suggestive trademark is a word that, when applied to the products or services, requires imagination, thought, or perception to reach a conclusion regarding the nature of those goods or services. Greyhound® for bus services is a suggestive trademark because a customer has to use imagination to conclude that the bus travels as fast as a greyhound dog.

(d) Descriptive Trademark – Not Strong. A descriptive trademark immediately conveys information regarding an ingredient, quality, characteristic, function, feature, purpose or use of the product or service. While it is tempting to select a descriptive mark because of the ease in recognition of the goods or services provided, they are only protectable if used and advertised over a period of time so that consumers associate the mark with the good or service with which it is used. Honey-Baked® for hams and No Spot® for a car wash system were initially deemed descriptive of the products and services.

(e) Generic – Weak and Unprotectable. Generic terms or common words for the products or services cannot function as a trademark because it would prevent others from rightfully using the common name for the product or service that they make. Super Glue, after a costly court battle, was deemed generic when used on a strong, rapid setting glue and not entitled to trademark protection.

All trademarks mentioned in this article should by no means be associated with Trademark24. We didn’t search them, we didn’t file them, we didn’t conceive of them.

PS This last bit was for the big bulldog IP attorneys who have hissy fits when I use well-known trademarks as examples in this blog.

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