When choosing a new trademark, such as a new product name or company name, many businesses make the mistake of not being sufficiently thorough in their selection process. They often choose a name that has a good ring to it, or fits perfectly into a certain context, but being meticulous from the outset of their selection process may be worth the effort.
A name for a new product, product line, company or similar should not only sound good and be easy to remember. From a rights perspective, it is important to consider certain aspects early in the process for the new name to become a success as a trademark in the market.
Find out if the name is already being used
If you choose a name for which others already hold the rights, it may lead to major – and costly – problems for your business. Especially if you are already far into the process of launching your new name and product before becoming aware of it. Performing a preliminary examination very early on in the process is therefore highly recommended. This will not only help you determine if your idea for a name is identical to trademarks that have already been registered or for which an application has already been filed; it will also help you determine if the name is so close to another trademark that the two are confusingly similar. In that case, it will most likely result in disputes with the rights holders in the market, and you may eventually be forced to stop using the name.
These issues often do not arise until businesses upscale and become international. By then, the situation cannot easily be rectified. At this stage, the businesses will typically have a well-established name on the Danish market, but if another rights holder prevents them from using their name in international markets, it may impact the growth potential of their entire business. However, a thorough preliminary examination will point to issues with any similar marks at an early stage, giving you the possibility to change your mark before launching it on the market – in Denmark and abroad.
Do not think in too general terms
It is important not to choose a name that is too common or general. Far too many businesses have already done so, and it may therefore be difficult to steer clear of others’ rights in a registration process. Also, there is an increased risk that your mark will be diluted if it is too commonly used.
General words or expressions also have a tendency to describe the products they designate, which means that the mark cannot be registered. In the start-up process, it may seem favourable to choose a general word as a trademark, as it will evoke associations with the product to which it relates. Moreover, it might even be beneficial in the short term in relation to being found e.g. via search engine optimisation, which will eventually result in sales. However, in the long term, when the business is firmly established, it will be problematic if the trademark cannot be registered. It is possible to use a name without registering it as a trademark. However, that would make it difficult to prevent others from selling products under the same name, which may not only adversely impact the reputation of your business, it may also cause you to lose market share. You should therefore choose a name that distinguishes your product or business from those of your competitors. And make sure to have it registered.
Beware of the meaning of the name – also in other languages
Exploring whether your idea for a trademark has a special meaning in other languages is by no means a pointless exercise. Not only could it affect the level of seriousness of your mark if it has an unfortunate meaning in another country. Consider, for instance, the meaning of the word ‘fart’ (Danish for ‘speed’) in Danish and English. In some instances, it may also limit your chances of having the mark registered abroad; for instance if the name is considered to be inappropriate in another language.
We have longstanding experience assisting businesses getting off to a good start with their innovative ideas. Feel free to contact us if you require assistance.