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Trademark Search – Minimizing The Dangers Of Having Similar Names To Your Competitors

Trademark Search – Minimizing The Dangers Of Having Similar Names To Your Competitors

August 26, 2015

Trademark search is designed to help minimize the dangers of choosing names for your business, brand, product, or service, which are similar to those of your competitors and which might land you in an expensive intellectual property conflict.

For this very reason, we were surprised to hear, then, that LG electronics, the South Korean technology giant, has filed a number of trademarks disputes which included the ‘EDGE’ moniker, more commonly associate with Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone and tablet product range. The ‘EDGE’ element, originally coined by Samsung for Galaxy Note Edge device which has a curvature on the side of the display, was later exported to the Galaxy S6 Edge and, now, to the S6 Edge +. In a bold move, LG has stepped into the ring with trademark applications for: Super Edge, Dual Edge, Upper Edge, Dual Side Edge, Side Edge, Double Edge, Two Edge, G Edge. According to G Edge filing which you can find here, it is apparent that the name is intended to be used for smartphones.

What’s The Play?

One can only speculate as to what LG’s legal team was thinking. An article on has noted that aside from the trolling Samsung theory, perhaps this is LG’s way of saying how it too wants to join the curved display market for smartphones and tablets. A notoriously competitive industry, the smartphone market has been fraught with ‘wars’ between Apple and Samsung, and Motorola and Microsoft. We previously wrote about how the Xbox 360 was close to being banned in America in a patent battle with Motorola in our article – Motorola, Microsoft patent war rages on.

It could be that LG’s move might trigger another intellectual property war; this time for dominance in the curved edge displays market between LG and Samsung.

Similar Names

When it comes to trademarks, even a name which is different but similar enough to a prior trademark can result in litigation. Bigger companies with a reputation are more likely to litigate aggressively as a name and its associated reputation tend to be the differentiating factor in highly homogeneous markets, such as the smartphone market.

It is easy to see how a name of a product or service is highly relevant. The old adage ‘a death by a thousand cuts’ rings true for products and services with a distinctive name and renowned name. Should a name be used for a variety of goods and services, the distinctive sparkle fades and the market position soon starts to evaporate.

See our article on Naming Strategies – Google’s New Brand Strategy for more highly distinctive names that run the risk on becoming generic from being overused.

Trademark Search Essentials

When choosing names, it is important that you avoid names similar to your competitors. This is primarily to ensure, as much as possible, that the name you have chosen is distinctive and readily associable with your brand, product or service and your business values, and not those of your competitors.

A trademark search will help you ascertain which names you can and cannot choose. Further, a trademark search on the registers of each relevant target market will clear the options available to you and the best relevant strategy to employ to your market position and that of your competition.

Having said that, LG’s aggressive play presents a different strategy altogether, and one which tends to be permissible only to those with deep pockets. Applying for names similar to competitors will most likely prompt litigation. If you have the resources to fight it out with expensive lawyers, it can be a risk that you will take. Nevertheless, litigation can only go one of two ways.

First, is that you lose the opposition and you start from scratch with a new and different name. For a lot of companies, a re-brand can be as fatal as the rate of consumer consumption far surpassing brand loyalty (just think of Apple who has resorted to clever ways to lock you in with their entire product range). For a ‘Small And Midsize Enterprise’ (SME), this can be dangerous play.

For a company like LG Electronics, however, it can be a mere way of publicizing a challenge which can put them in the spotlight as a newcomer and will undoubtedly disrupt Samsung with legal costs (as Apple did in 2012 when the Court ordered Samsung to pay Apple an eye watering $1Billion in damages). In the event that they become successful in registering the ‘EDGE’ moniker, it will have the wider effect of knocking Samsung down one more peg and steal its curvy display thunder with something which is newer and potentially more innovative.

If you are thinking about starting a new company or launching a product or service and need a new name, here at Azrights we can do international trademark searches and provide you with an opinion on how to avoid getting caught in an expensive trademark battle. See our trademark search page for more details on how we can help.