Tag Archives: brand name

trademark use

Trade Mark Use – When May You Legitimately Use Someone Else’s Trade Mark?

trademark useTo discuss trade mark use let’s start by taking a couple of steps back to understand a bit more about trade marks.

Trade marks are the way to protect your ‘brand”. This word is overused to mean almost whatever a writer wants it to mean, but for current purposes suffice to say “brand” originates from the days when animals were burned with a branding iron to indicate ownership of them.

So to indicate our ownership of our business, or products and services we use various types of “sign”, the most universal one being a name.

The law protects certain names through intellectual property rights known as trademarks.

Names

One major advantage a business has over an individual is in getting to choose its own name.  However, the subject of names is surprisingly complex, and poorly understood, even within the branding industry. The upshot is that many businesses do not give the choice sufficient time, and consideration and get into difficulties later on. They might then have to rebrand to either adjust the name or change it altogether.

Some of the complexity arises because there are various places where people may register names.  It’s possible to register domain names, company names, or to simply adopt a trading name and use it without taking any further action.

Trade marks are more remote to small businesses due to the higher official fees payable to register them. This makes them less accessible than domain and company names. Trade marks also have complexities that make them less suitable to just go register without taking advice.

The upshot is that fewer people tend to register trade marks than register company or domain names.

In this post, I’m not going to cover what types of name are capable of being owned because that’s a large subject. Instead, I want to focus on trade mark use because people are often confused as to what they may or may not do if a name is trade marked.

For example, can they register a similar name? Is it acceptable to refer to a business by its name on your blog? When may you use a hashtag of a brand name? What if someone registers the ‘domain.sucks’ a version of your brand name? What actions might you take?

Such questions all turn on what amounts to trade mark use. There are more questions than space allows for me to answer them but if you’re wondering about use of others’ trade marks in Google Ads then a good starting point for your research are some posts I’ve written such as Should Google be prevented from profiting from cybersquatting?, Louis Vuitton v Google – The AG’s Opinion and Adwords Trademark Policy – Using Competitors’ Names In Adwords

 

Function of a Trade Mark

A trade mark acts as a ‘container” in which the brand value generated in the business is captured. Although it is possible to have trade mark rights without registering a trade mark, unregistered rights are very weak. Unless you have a significant budget to enforce your unregistered rights you effectively don’t have any rights in a name you’re using if you haven’t registered it as a trade mark. It’s less expensive to enforce your rights in a name you have registered.

A trade mark ring fences an area of business in which you have exclusive rights to use your brand name. Competitors can be stopped from using any name that is similar in sound, concept, or visually as they may effectively then be “free riding” on your brand.

This is a big trap for the unwary who think they can just make a slight change of spelling in order to use a similar name. Trade marks give wide protection against confusingly similar names which is why it makes sense to ensure you have a name you can own, that is not descriptive, and that nobody else already owns.

A trade mark is the closest you get to having exclusive rights to use the name for your goods and services. If the name of your business is not capable of being protected through a trade mark registration then it will be very expensive, if not impossible to protect your business name and build up goodwill under that name.

The use of a trade mark in connection with goods and/or services in a manner that is likely to cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods and/or services is what the law prevents other people doing.

So how might third parties legitimately use your trade mark?

As I mentioned in How To Blog Safely And Avoid Infringement of Intellectual Property the mere reference in your blog to a word trade mark  – such as “BARCLAYS BANK” or “GAP” will not amount to trade mark infringement because names are not protected by copyright law, and trade mark infringement is based on consumer confusion. So, a mere reference to someone’s brand name in your blog is not going to lead to such confusion. The only exception to this is if your use is such that the relevant consumer might be led to believe that your blog is somehow connected to or supported by Barclays Bank.

And as mentioned in this blog about the use of #Hashtags and trade mark infringement, “If a hashtag name constitutes or includes a registered trademark, at first glance it may be sufficient (without registration of a hashtag itself) to bring an infringement claim and establish consumer confusion of a competing use.”… however,  the courts tend to attribute a degree of consumer sophistication to internet users which makes it less rather than more likely that mere use of a hashtag would amount to trade mark infringement. (See Public Impact v Boston Consulting )

And as for using a trade mark name within a domain name such as .sucks as I mentioned in my blog Buying the Suckscom Version of Your Brand where there is simply non-commercial use, then ‘gripe sites’ or protest sites as they are often called, are unlikely to be making trade mark use of a brand.  Therefore, there would be no risk of customer confusion.  In such situations, it is possible to argue there is a ‘legitimate interest’ in using the brand name.

Conclusion

The law aims to keep trade marks free for others to use. Therefore, if you own a mark and do not genuinely make commercial use of it in the country in which your mark is registered for a five year period you will not be able to enforce your rights in that trade mark.

It is not sufficient to just say that the mark has been used, or to just produce a catalogue or a price list showing your mark. There needs to be a clear chain of documentation showing use of the mark in relation to the goods / services for which the mark is registered. So, you might be able to prove use for some goods and services in which you’ve registered your mark but not all of them in which case you will lose your rights over part of your mark.

As they say in trade mark law, Use it or Lose it

trademark

What Does It Mean When You Trademark A Name?

trademarkYour brand name should be a “barrier to entry” – protecting you against the threats that competitors potentially present. Just as patenting an invention gives you a monopoly right over your invention and acts as a barrier to entry against competitors, so names are also important barriers to entry provided they are well chosen. Not any name will cut it. It’s important to take advice on your business or brand name before adopting it.

Your Brand Name Is Like A Physical Plot of Land

Intellectual property rights such as trademarks give you property rights similar to the ownership of physical property. Just as you wouldn’t develop land without first making sure you owned it, so you need to own a name if you’re going to build your brand around it.

There is a similar system in place to that of the land registry, so that you can check ownership rights in a name and register it as a trademark. Although trademarks differ from physical property. They involve complexities. For example, using a similar name is a problem as Scrabulous discovered when it received a cease and desist letter from Scrabble and lost its market leading online word game overnight.

The other day someone said to me, but Shireen we should deal with so many things that we don’t – for example, we should have a shareholder agreement, or we should have a will, we should have employment contracts. He was implying that IP was no different. However, IP like trademarks are completely different. It’s completely wrong to lump trademarking with other legal actions you might put off till it’s convenient. Nor is IP an “insurance” thing either.

IP underpins your very business, and disregarding it is to gamble with your entire business. Would you put off getting title to a piece of land that you were developing by building properties on it? Would you just rely on squatting rights while you developed it? I doubt it. Your brand is no less important.

Don’t Just Use a Name Without Registering it

It’s vital to register a trademark as soon as possible to protect your legal identity before you move on to creating your visual identity.

If there’s a name I myself want to use I won’t even reveal it publicly till I’ve filed an application to register it as a trade mark.  I know what can go wrong. So, if you’re testing an idea and are not ready to spend money on trademarking, I recommend using a temporary name rather than a name you love and which you’ve not protected.

With one of my trademarks, I discovered that a bigger business was using the same name and had even registered it as an EU trade mark. I challenged them on this. And because I had right on my side, I prevailed. In that case, I agreed to sell them my trademark for a 5-figure sum because they really needed to use the name. I wouldn’t have had a leg to stand on if I had simply used the name first without registering it as a trademark. In practice, my only option would have been to rebrand given that they’d registered an EU trade mark. I’d have had no financial support for the costs involved in the rebranding. But when you have legal title to a name you have a strong bargaining position.

Registering Trademarks in The Brexit Era

With Brexit having been in the air these past few years and potentially likely to happen in 2020, it makes more sense for people to apply to register a UK trademark than an EU one.

A UK trademark is a solid foundation for extending your trademark protection to other countries worldwide using the Madrid Protocol system. You could specify the EU in such an application and secure protection in the 27 countries.

Since the UK voted to leave the European Union, it’s become more common for brand owners to use the Madrid Protocol system rather than European Union trademarks. These used to be very popular given that a single application enabled you to protect your mark across the EU’s 28 member states (which includes the UK). But Brexit makes an EU trademark less appealing.

The Madrid Protocol system is the way we extend our clients’ UK trademarks to secure protection for their brand in the EU market, as well as the USA – which is one of the other popular jurisdictions.

If you need help to protect your brand then we are well placed to support you.

Licensing Fran

Licensing or Franchising To Take Your Business to the Next Level

Licensing FranschisingLicensing and franchising are effective ways to take your business to the next level.

Businesses in the UK that are thinking about whether to franchise their business have the option to use a simpler, cheaper approach to achieve the same ends, namely licensing.

What are the considerations when choosing between the two options?

Both options involve finding people with the right skills to be trainable to operate a business using your successful format. They’ll invest to buy the rights to use your brand name and methodology and their chances of success in business will be improved through having access to a tried and tested system that has been proven to work. That’s the essence of the arrangement.

Franchising

Once you select someone to become your franchisee, you will need to train the new recruit in the way you operate your business. They will get access to your proven systems and processes.

Almost any type of business can be franchised.

A franchise leaves you in control of the brand and training, and you’re then giving permission to the franchisee to use your brand and other intellectual property (which includes your know-how) to operate your successful business model.

The franchisee will put up the initial capital for the business, paying you a licence fee. They agree to strictly comply with your established ways of running the business as stipulated in your operations manuals.

The franchisee will be promoting your brand and will expect to have a successful business simply because they will be following a successful proven path. You are expected to provide support to your franchisees in the form of marketing, access to trusted suppliers, systems, and other resources and skills.

Training becomes a core part of your business activity once you take on franchisees.

Permission to use your intellectual property (IP) lies at the heart of a franchise contract.

A franchise agreement will generally give you a lot of control in how the business is run. The franchisee must follow the format extremely closely and not deviate from your established processes and systems. For example, if a customer visits a branch of McDonald’s they must find the familiar products, look and feel and service that they are used to experiencing. There must be no differences that are likely to jar or lead to disappointment.

It’s generally accepted that the slightest difference in the business format could damage the franchisor’s brand, not just that particular outlet. That’s why the franchise agreement will have strict quality control provisions in it, and strong sanctions against a franchisee who attempts to break out and introduce their own ideas.

Licensing

A franchise includes licensing in that “licensing” is a term that simply means the granting of permission to a third party to use the owner’s know-how and other confidential information, trademarks, logos and designs, and copyright materials. For some businesses, there may be patents involved too.

The essence of licensing is also the granting of permissions by the owner to a third party to use some or all its Intellectual Property.

One of the main differences between franchising and a straight licensing arrangement is in the formalities involved to set up a franchise, and the degree of control you retain as franchisor.

If you want to give another business, (perhaps one that’s operating in other parts of the country), permission to use your business format, and don’t want to go through the formality of franchising, then you can create a licensing arrangement based loosely around franchising.

The licensing agreement might impose many of the same controls as a typical franchising deal would include, but without going through the regulations imposed around franchising.

It’s important to make sure the laws of the country in which you’re making your arrangements do not impose fines for effectively running a franchise under a different name. Certainly, in the USA there are hefty fines if you attempt to pass off what is essentially franchising as licensing.

As in all areas of legal life, it’s not what you call something that matters, but what it amounts to in substance.

Some businesses prefer to use licensing rather than franchising. For example, once you receive more enquiries than you can handle, you may decide to use licencing to give other individuals or businesses the right to deliver your solution using your brand. For example, they might continue using their existing business name, and simply offer your product under your brand name as one of their offerings to their clients. They would be trained in your methodology to deliver the product or service to customers in their part of the country.

Brand licensing is how licensing started. I covered this more in Licensing And Franchising, What is The Difference And Does It Matter?

If you have built up a brand name and want to licence third parties to use the name or to deliver a related product using your brand in their own business, then licensing might be a good option.

Conclusion

Any “licensing” deal that is so close to franchising that it blurs the boundary between the two is in truth franchising under another name.

If there are no problems in doing so in your country, then you might want to work towards franchising by using a “licensing” arrangement first. This might be a way to try out the model with a few trusted sources so that rather than diving straight into franchising, with all the due diligence and formalities it entails, you test it out as part of your business model.

The important thing is to use a good agreement that protects your IP. Your brand, patents, know-how, trademarks, etc. These are precious assets, which should not be shared casually. The terms on which you grant licences or franchises need to be carefully considered, and we at Azrights are well placed to support you.

brand name dispute

Brand Name Dispute

brand name disputeBrand name disputes occur all too frequently because the trademark registers are increasingly cluttered and it can be difficult to find available names. You may be found using a name for one purpose, but as soon as you use it for another purpose you could actually be facing a brand name dispute.

When you use a name or other brand symbol that someone else claims to have a better title to, or if you find someone using confusingly similar branding to yours and want to challenge it, you have a dispute to deal with.

As it is not widely appreciated that it is necessary to check the trademark registers before using a name, brand name disputes are one of the most common ones we see.  For example:

  • A client secures their desired domain name, sometimes spending thousands of pounds, only to receive notice that its use infringes on someone else’s trademark rights. The rights to use of a name stem from trademarks not from domain or company name availability.
  • If a domain name is registered that is deemed to be a registration in bad faith, then you could be challenged to return the domain to its rightful owners. For example, even if you have managed to buy a domain name for the name cocacolaclothing.co.uk for your online clothing business it does not mean you are entitled to use that name to sell your line of clothing.
  • A logo is registered as a UK trademark, but an EU trademark owner believes it infringes on their word trademark and sends a cease and desist letter requiring the withdrawal of all products bearing that logo.

Sometimes someone may simply be using their own name in the business, but this may conflict with a registered trademark. For example, if your name is Paul Smith and you are a fashion designer, you would have a potential dispute to deal with if you decided to set up shop as Paul Smith, given that the trademark rights of the famous designer Paul Smith in fashion and clothing would block you.

 

Resolving the dispute

Brand name disputes usually take one of three forms:

  • Either the dispute is in relation to registered trademarks – these may involve opposition to a trademark application or a cease and desist letter threatening court proceedings.
  • Brand name disputes can also occur if someone is using a name but hasn’t registered it as a trademark. In that case, they would argue ‘passing off’ and possibly threaten court proceedings. Or if you have applied to register a trademark they may either oppose your trademark application based on their earlier rights or apply to cancel your registration if you have already registered the mark.
  • Domain name disputes – now whether or not the brand name is a registered trademark, and no matter how strong or weak your position may be, the starting point for addressing any brand name dispute is to get specialist advice so as to decide how best to respond.

You may need to change your name and will need to use someone who both understands brands and names.  It is so important to use a trademark expert who ‘gets’ branding rather than simply asking a brand agency to help you. Leaving the legal dimension till after the choice has been made could expose you to a further dispute, or leave you with a name that can’t uniquely belong to you.

When Does a Start Up Need to Register a Trademark?

Every time you create a product, service, or business, you need a brand identity for it. Without a doubt, the most important element of most brands is the name.

The law protects names through trademarks, not copyright.  

It is not possible to claim copyright in a name, even if the name is one you made up.

Start ups often wonder whether they need to spend the money to register a trademarkSome wonder why it’s not enough to have registered a company or domain name. Yet others have heard of unregistered trademark rights being acquired through use, and wonder why they should not just use the name without bothering with any trademark registrations.

Company and Domain name registrations are insufficient

The short answer to whether company or domain registrations are enough is no. Domain and company names do not give you the necessary rights you need in a name.  The fact that they are available to register does not mean you may use them for any purpose you like. You still need to establish whether anyone has trademark rights in the name you’re intending to use as your brand name. 

Trademark registration is the way to protect a name, and get the necessary rights you need in that nameIt is not a good idea to rely on unregistered trademark rights in the brand name in which you will be building your brand equity.  

What is a good name?

A good name will help you to build brand value and to successfully secure trademark registration in the word. But to pick a name that works involves more than meets the eye at first. 

As well as conveying the desired personality characteristics, sometimes across world markets and in multiple languages, it’s essential that the brand name be legally available and distinctive.

Often a name is the first issue you need to consider before beginning work on designs, websites, and marketing materials.

Should you register the name?

It all depends on how important the name is to you.  If you’ve found a name you are excited about and want to use long term for your business, then you should immediately register it as a trade mark, before you do anything else. That’s the way to establish ownership rights to a name.

If you are not that bothered whether you can use the name long term or not, then don’t worry about trademarking.  Once you’ve established that you are not infringing on anyone else’s rights, just go ahead and use the name.

Conclusion

So, when you’re starting a new business, pick any name based on whether your desired domain name is freely available to register. Don’t spend too much on getting an identity sorted for your business either. The focus should be on finding a suitable niche and positioning for your business and testing it.

You can have more than one niche, but best to move forward one niche at a time.

So, initially focus on getting the business off the ground.  If your business is viable and works, you can rebrand (by which I mean getting a visual identity in line with your brand values) once you’ve found your feet.

At that time, you could even pick a new name, so you can save if you’re willing to choose a temporary brand name to use as well as temporary designs in the early days. 

On the other hand, if you have coined a really inventive name, and like it, or don’t want to have the hassle of a rebranding exercise later, then, of course, you should invest in the name by properly protecting it with a trademark. 

How to Establish Your Brand

establish brandWhen starting a business, you need to think about how to establish your brand.

Your brand is what drives your business, a set of promises and assurances that customers should think of when they see or hear your name. It is your unique identity that resonates with your target audience and differentiates you from your competitors.

With the correct strategy, your brand will gain in value over time. This value will come from the positive reputation your business develops.

Brand establishment should be considered as a long-term goal and essential to your overall business strategy.

The following tips will help you consider how to establish your brand.

Establish your brand strategy

The first step is to establish your brand strategy.

This should be considered when you first come up with your business idea, and should be kept in mind as your business develops.

As part of the strategy ask yourself what are the promises I want to be associated with my brand and how can I ensure my brand becomes a reflection of these promises? Also, consider what you want as your brand identifier; a word, logo, or both?

Businesses naturally evolve over time, so your brand strategy will need to be reviewed as your business develops.

It’s probably not worth spending a lot of money on designs in the early days.

Search your brand name

Once you have the basis of your brand strategy, you can then take steps to clear your chosen name for use.

A good starting point is to carry out an Internet search for the name. If you find a business using the same name or something very similar, this may cause problems from a trademark perspective.

So, once you have a name you think may be available, you should consider having a final check by a trademark lawyer and get a legal opinion on the name. They can carry out comprehensive searches https://azrights.com/?s=trademark+searches even on an international level, to ensure your chosen name is available for use and stands the best chance of being registered as a trademark.

Trademark your name

Your brand name is an intangible asset and one of the most valuable assets your business will own. When you have chosen your brand name, and cleared it for use through a trademark search, it is essential to protect it through trademark registration.

Registration will help secure the rights in the name and the goodwill your business generates, increasing the overall value of your brand.  Trademarks are split into 45 categories (or classes) of goods and services. This means a name can be used even if it already exists, provided there is no overlap in the goods or services being offered. Trademark drafting is a specialist skill, and should be carried out by an experienced professional or with instruction. This will ensure you aren’t faced with a worthless trademark, or are subject to a legal dispute later down the line.

Apply your trademark

Once you have secured protection for your name, you can then start to apply your trademark as your brand identifier. When applying your trademark to your business, you need to remember that this is what consumers will associate with your brand, so avoid anything which may reflect negatively on your business. Remember, once your trademark is registered, you can use the ® symbol to denote to your customers and competitors that your name is a registered trademark.

Build your brand

As you start to apply your brand to your goods and services, the reputation and goodwill behind the brand will start to gain momentum. This is the time to start building on your brand awareness, promoting the benefits of your business over that of your competitors. The sooner you build on the reputation and recognition of your brand, the quicker your brand will gain value.

Learn what works

It is important to constantly monitor how your customers perceive your brand and whether this perception aligns with your brand strategy. Once your business has been running for some time, this is the point when you may want to revisit your brand strategy and learn what works and what doesn’t. The next steps involve improving your brand and securing additional intellectual property protection, such as for a tagline, so remember the lessons you’ve learnt from past experiences.

Improve your brand

Complacency can be dangerous and may damage the reputation of your brand. As a business, you will need to constantly improve your brand to stay competitive in the market. As you have learnt what works, this is a good time to review your brand strategy and consider what improvements can be made. Perhaps the business can offer more competitive pricing, or the quality of your products has improved, in which case these factors need to be communicated to your customers so they become associated with your business.

Secure your IP

You now have an established brand and a reputation to protect. This is a good stage to carry out an IP audit, and an IP risks test, to see what other rights your business should protect. Since establishing the brand name, there may be a host of other rights which have accrued and should now be protected, consider;

  1. Does my trademark still cover all the goods and services the business offers?
  2. Has my business expanded into other countries?
  3. Are there any other names, slogans or logos which are now associated with my business?
  4. Are there any domain names I should consider registering?
  5. Are all my innovations protected?

By securing the rights in your IP which develop over time, you can continue to increase the value in your brand and ultimately, your business.

Has it worked?

Finally, consider has your brand strategy worked and does it align with your original intentions for the business? If your strategy was to create a promise of lost cost, high-quality goods, does your brand reflect this and is this what customers associate with your brand name?

Having a strong brand strategy and good knowledge of brand protection will help ensure the success for your next product launch, business idea or even just help continue building on the value of your current brand.

Do You Know Why Your Brand Could Be Worthless?

In this post I’m going to offer some information that I think might be quite useful to you when you’re establishing a new business or product.

You’re likely to be thinking about a name, commissioning a website and logo to launch it, and considering how you will market it and so on.

Relatively few people think about the legal aspects until they’ve already chosen a name, created a website and maybe even finalised their branding. When they do turn to a lawyer it’s typically to register a trade mark, or perhaps because they wonder whether there’s anything they can do to protect their business concept.

I often ask myself why do people assume lawyers should be approached at the END of a branding or website project?  It’s so strikingly different to what happens in other areas of business life. If you were about to build a house, you’d first contact a lawyer to check that you could buy the plot of land. You wouldn’t simply commission builders and take your chances that you might later secure rights to the land. The risk that someone might pop up to claim better title to the land and throw you off their turf wouldn’t be one most people would willingly entertain. Also, you’d want to know whether other people have lodged planning permission to construct buildings or roads, and whether you have all the rights of access that you need and so on. You’d know to first sort out all these ownership issues.

Maybe because intangibles are invisible people don’t really understand that there are laws – called intellectual property or IP – which govern their branding projects. The name you choose is the branding equivalent of your plot land, while other branding elements such as website projects are like the buildings you construct on the land. Intangibles are every bit as important, if not more important than physical assets of your business.

While the likes of Coca Cola have access to large branding or advertising agencies and highly specialist legal teams when making their branding decisions, small and medium size businesses don’t often have the benefit of timely proactive advice to help them to make good branding choices.

I suggest you take the time to understand the basics of IP law relating to brands so you find a suitably qualified lawyer to help you to achieve a strong brand. The requirements for powerful intellectual property rights and powerful brands are typically the same.

A specialist IP brand solicitor can advise whether the name is a good one from a legal perspective because they’ll have day to day experience of trade mark registration work, copyright issues and website projects. To get value for money from an IP brand lawyer consult them BEFORE you pick your brand name, logo and tagline or commission your website. Nothing protects a brand better than a well-chosen name or tagline. This is unfortunately not well understood that it’s the choice that determines how easy or difficult you will find it to protect your brand, and how costly it will be.

Most people assume their branding or internet professionals know all the necessary law relating to brands and websites, but they don’t. That’s not their focus or expertise. Just as you wouldn’t engage architects expecting them to also check that you can own the land on which you intend to build your house, or to know what type of locks you need to install to burglar-proof it, so it’s inappropriate to expect non-lawyers to take care of your IP rights.

The legal issues around brands and names are surprisingly complex.

Branding and internet professionals are primarily thinking about marketing, communications, and visual identity when creating websites or selecting brand elements like names and taglines for you. They may be able to do some rudimentary checks themselves to see whether a proposed name or logo is already registered by someone else, but their focus is on whether the name, tagline, logo or other component would be effective as marketing tools. An IP branding lawyer would know whether it’s a strong name which could support your business plans, as well as what checks are necessary both in the UK and elsewhere if your plans include an international dimension. It’s certainly not as straightforward as searching to see whether the same name or logo is already registered. Similar names or logos could also pose problems, and there are a host of other considerations which your lawyer is well placed to advise upon.

A real separation exists between the worlds of branding and the law. To get a powerful brand that’s legally effective involves a close collaboration between IP brand lawyers and branding professionals. Currently it is not the norm at the smaller agency end to have such collaborative working. So whether you yourself choose your name or get a branding agency to help you, make sure you don’t end up with a weak brand name. This reduces its value as a long term IP asset.

Some name choices would be the equivalent of building a house which others could regularly break into and steal from. I’ll explain why by taking the dance called ZUMBA as an example. The business that created this dance has given it a distinctive name and trade marked it in many countries worldwide. This means that anyone wanting to provide ZUMBA classes will need to be accredited by the business. Had the company instead chosen a descriptive name for their dance, such as NEW LATIN DANCE, they probably wouldn’t have a business now. Even if they’d managed to register this name as a trade mark in one country they’d have a tough time registering it in another and ultimately no matter how much money they spent, they would have not be able to prevent other people from offering classes featuring their invented dance.

So, for a business such as ZUMBA it would have been a bad idea to choose a descriptive name. Instead of collecting revenues, they’d have been spending a fortune on litigation. So, if you’ve got big plans for your business, don’t leave it till the end of your branding project to consult an IP brand lawyer. That would reduce the legal input to one of registering and protecting your IP rights, such as they are. It would be too late to give you effective advice. Registering your own trade mark and not getting any legal advice at all is an even worse decision because few people manage to properly cover the full scope of their business when they do their own registration. Your trade mark is important, so consult a specialist brand lawyer. Contact me at Azrights or look out for my book Legally Branded out in the spring of 2012.

What makes a good brand name online?

Series of domain articles

In January we posted an article about entrepreneurs whose livelihood turns on having large portfolios of domain names.

We explained how these domainers tend to buy generic (that is, descriptive) or subject specific domains (e.g. ‘eating disorders’) because such domains are valuable for search purposes – attracting traffic and generating click revenue as 15-20% of surfers type a name into their web browser rather than into a search engine. This type of search therefore brings ‘direct navigation’ traffic to the domain page. When the page features ads, the domainer receives a commission each time a surfer clicks on an ad.

As knowledge about domains is useful for any business aspiring to grow online, we decided to write a series of articles on domains. In this second article in our series we focus on the question – what makes for a good brand name on the web?

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