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Is Your Choice of Name Sound?

Is Your Choice of Name Sound?

Names involve a variety of traps for the unwary. – be it the type of name that should be used, or the searches needed to establish availability.

Given that everything we do in business involves raising awareness of our name, and that the goodwill value of our business is captured in its name, the decision about what name to use deserves more attention than it gets.

Considering names from all perspectives

Names should be considered from a variety of perspectives because not all names are equally suitable.

Some names may be too generic to uniquely own while other names, though ownable, may be difficult to enforce because they feature an element that’s in common use in the industry.

A famous example of this is OATLY that I wrote about a while ago.

It is not possible to object to competitors using elements of a name that are in widespread use in the industry. Oatly couldn’t claim a monopoly over the words OAT and OATY to stop a competitor using the name PUREOATY for its drink.

The only element that made the name OATLY ownable was the presence of the letter L. The words OAT and OATY are dictionary words in common use.

The Brand Protection Dimension

Enforceability problems only become apparent once people are successful.

However, if you consider a name from a brand protection perspective rather than purely from a marketing and promotional point of view when you’re first choosing a name, you’re more likely to end up with a good choice of name.

Yet few people tend to choose a name with brand protection in mind.

I’ve rarely been approached by clients to do more than search and register a trade mark.

Hardly anyone – be it business owners, or branding agencies - asks me whether the choice of name itself is sound from a legal perspective.

Yet, when you just focus on whether a name is available to use and register you don’t consider the brand protection perspective. So, you’re storing up problems for the future.

Once a business takes off it should expect its branding to be copied or mimicked. Business is a competitive arena, and IP is the way you manage competition.

So, the need to enforce your rights against copyists or to stop confusion or loss of sales is something to think about in advance. It’s too late to choose a more distinctive name if you leave it till you’re already successful.

In conclusion the message I’d like to leave you with, is that the time to think about brand protection is BEFORE finalising the decision about a name.