Starting a new company or launching a new product or service is an exciting endeavor, but choosing the right brand name is critical to its success. When choosing a brand name, it is important to consider whether the name would be granted trademark protection, and if so, whether the trademark would be considered “strong.”
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design (or a combination of those things) that identifies and distinguishes the source and quality of certain goods or services from those of others.
Trademark protection can be granted to the words in a brand name, as well as how they appear (color, font, etc.), if the brand name (1) distinguishes the goods or services, (2) identifies the source of the goods or services, and (3) is used in commerce for the sale of specific goods or services. Once your trademark is registered, there are some trademark rights available under common law. However, registering the trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) provides additional protection and notifies the public that the mark represents the brand.
When selecting a “strong” trademark, businesses should aim for a name that is distinctive, memorable, and stands out from competitors.
Examples of weak trademarks include:
Strong trademarks include:
It is important to consult an attorney early in the process of choosing a brand name to avoid costly mistakes and ensure that the chosen name is eligible for trademark protection. Waiting until a specific name is already in use can result in spending money to promote a name that has little or no legal protection, and can even incur legal fees and damages for trademark infringement.