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Trademark Considerations: Choosing a Business Name

You've come up with a brilliant idea. Your family and friends are behind you and you're ready to make it big. But here comes your first potential hurdle: What do you name your new business?

Companies creating trademarks (including a business name) often fail to thoroughly research other companies for the same trademark (name, logo, symbol, sound, color used as a distinguishing feature). If you are starting your own business, whether it is a food truck, clothing line, or tech start up, it is important to first make certain that your desired business name is available for your use. Taking another business's established name could lead to trademark infringement lawsuits and other legal trouble down the road.

A primary consideration when choosing the name of your new venture should be the distinctiveness of the name. Strong trademarks are fanciful or arbitrary, meaning that they are, respectively, made up words or words with a common meaning that are unrelated to the goods offered. Descriptive and generic marks are weaker, as descriptive marks describe some feature of the goods offered, while generic marks describe the type of goods and services. The name should be distinctive so that customers will associate it with your products and distinguish it from other businesses, trademarks, and products.

If during your online search, you see a few other businesses using your desired name, the next question to ask is whether you share an industry. For example, if two companies with the same or a similar name are in completely unrelated industries (i.e. hardware versus baked goods), it is unlikely consumers would confuse the two companies, and thus a claim for trademark infringement that was brought against you would be challenging for the first company to prove. Conversely, if a company is in a related industry (baked goods and snack foods, for example) or the same industry you want to be in, you should consider ways to make your name more distinctive. An experienced trademark attorney in Orange County can help you with this process.

Another factor to consider when running a business name search is geography. If a company with the name you plan to use is in a different country (the United States versus New Zealand, for example), your risk of potential trademark infringement may be mitigated if you do not share the same customer base and therefore, the consumers are not likely to be confused as to the origin of the products.

Adjusting your trademark to make sure it is distinctive and not susceptible to trademark infringement claims is a simple but effective way to proactively protect your company. For assistance on strengthening your brand or protecting your ideas, contact the experienced Orange County IP lawyers at MYBE Law today.

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