What’s In a Name? – Part 1   Leave a comment

An orange registered trademark (®) logo.

An orange registered trademark (®) logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’ve previously posted about various considerations that come into play when deciding on what type of entity to organize for a new business.  Once you’ve made that determination, the next step is to choose a name and file the necessary paperwork to create the new company.  Easy enough, right?  Unfortunately, many business owners fail to do their homework at this step and end up choosing a business name that either (1) can’t serve as a trademark or service mark (at least not inherently), or (2) infringes on someone else’s existing trade name, trademark or service mark.  Especially for consumer or service-oriented businesses, where the brand is a significant part of the goodwill of the business, selecting a solid (and non-infringing) company name is an important part of protecting the assets of the company and your investment in marketing and building brand equity.

             So what makes a good company name or a good product name?  In order to function as a trademark or service mark, a name or logo must serve as a distinctive identifier of the origin of your products and services—namely, your company.  It must enable people to distinguish your products and services from similar products and services of other businesses.  The name should not just describe the products or services you provide.  Names that are “merely descriptive” of the goods or services they identify (such as “The Juicy Hamburger Joint”) do not qualify for trademark protection without additional evidence that the consuming public associates the name with your goods and services specifically.  New business can rarely, if ever, provide such evidence of “secondary meaning.” Further, if a mark is so descriptive as to serve as a common name for your product or service, then it is “generic” and cannot qualify for trademark protection under any circumstances. 

             Stay tuned for our next post in this series, when we’ll discuss how to create a strong brand or company name.

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You may, as long as you include this complete bio with it:

 Kathleen Hart is a Georgia attorney, focusing her practice in corporate law, including intellectual property and franchise matters. 

 Her firm, Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C., works with all manner of clients in business and personal matters, providing “big firm” sophistication with suburban law firm attention and service.

Website: www.atclawfirm.com

Blog: www.andersentatecarr.wordpress.com

 Copyright © 2012, Kathleen Hart & Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C.


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