Everyone starts a business with the idea to take it into the future. But to create a strong brand, one that will appeal to your audience over time, and that you can protect across borders, it is very important to know what names can be registered as trademarks. Here we have some sound advice for you by Jane Kennedy and Michelle Bishton from Vault IP Limited, a UK intellectual property law firm targeted at innovative startups.
What makes a good brand name?
Well, the first thing it’s probably best to mention here is what does NOT make a good brand, and what a Trademark should not be.
● It should not be descriptive of the goods and/or services you are offering;
● It should not be contrary to public policy or accepted principles of morality;
● It should not be deceptive;
● It should not be generic in the industry.
Your brand should distinguish your goods and services from your competitors. It should be distinctive. The brand name needs to stand out in the marketplace, and the market is a very crowded place! In today’s fast-paced society, you need to adopt a name that will be easily remembered and provide consumers with the right impression.
The best brand names are words that are coined by the applicant. These are invented/made-up words that do not appear in the dictionary and have no meaning. For example, think of KODAK and EXXON.
Invented words are easy to register and offer a strong degree of protection. However, the public will not immediately know or recognize the made-up word, so you will need to invest in educating the public about your brand to build up brand recognition. Descriptive straps are very useful for educating the public.
Arbitrary brand names, such as APPLE and SHELL, are ordinary dictionary words that have been adopted for use in relation to completely unrelated goods/services. Again, they are easily registered, with a wide scope of protection.
Allusive and Suggestive Words
Like arbitrary words, these are ordinary everyday words, but they allude to the nature of the goods and/or services being offered under the brand or are suggestive of certain qualities or characteristics, whilst not being directly descriptive. Examples of such marks include WHIRLPOOL for washing machines, JAGUAR for cars, PUMA for sports clothing. Allusive and suggestive Marks are easily registered and offer a good scope of protection.
This is when two ordinary dictionary words are combined to form a new word that is greater than the sum of its parts. Think of an unusual juxtaposition of words such as FITBIT and AIRDROP. The combination of the two words makes a new word. These Marks have the benefit of being arbitrary and invented words, as the marks are not directly descriptive of the goods and services offered, but it will not take too much brainpower to work out that a FITBIT is alluding to something fitness related. Care should be taken when conjoining two ordinary dictionary words to ensure that the end result is not descriptive. An unusual combination of words will offer the best form of protection.
If you are planning to use your brand overseas, consideration should be given to what the brand means in the territories you are interested in. You do not want to find out that your brand name means something offensive, or negative when translated into a different language. For example, the adoption of the brand Vauxhall Nova, was not a good choice for a car as ‘nova’ in Spanish means “doesn’t go”!
As stated in the beginning, choosing a brand name can be a tricky business. Once you have chosen a mark, be sure to check that it is available for you to use and register by conducting searches of earlier marks on the registers of the territories of interest to you.
We hope this will be of use to you in the process of getting your perfect domain name. If you have any questions, need any help, or just want to chat with someone about the process, book a free consultation at MarkUpgrade, we are always happy to hear from you.