Make Sure You Can Use Your Business Name Ideas
Ok, so over the past few weeks we’ve been talking to you a lot about coming up with lots of different names for your business. The Best Name Ever staff has been talking about being creative to come up with your business name, looking to your business plan to find inspiration for your business name and making sure the exact match domain name is available for your business name and now we want to help you narrow your choices even further.
So you’ve come up with a list of the Best Name Ever (sorry, had to trow a plug in there), and hopefully quite a few names in this list and then you’ve made sure that they are available in the .com domain form, that should have narrowed your list down quite a bit, now you need to narrow them down even further by making sure you can actually use that name.
“Making sure I can use the business name I came up with, what do you mean by that?” We feel that it is our responsibility to tell you, that just because you feel you made up a word or a brandable business name or compound descriptive company name and you were able to find said business name available in the .com, that does not entitle you to use the name. There is a possibility that someone else has trademarked the name already.
On a side note: if you’re a small business and plan on staying a small business with a store in a rural area with no desire to expand you’ll probably be OK, if on the other hand you’re looking to be a huge online presence or expand and be huge someday, you need to do a couple of things before you start using the name.
Bold Names for Your Business
That said, that fact that you have been able to secure the name in the .com, means that you are probably on a good track but there is a few more things for you to do before you’re in the clear. We also feel that it would be really negligent of us to not recommend a Trademark Attorney. A good trademark attorney is worth every penny and can save you thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run but we would like to share some free tips with you that you can do on your own for free or at least gather some information to present to the attorney to save you some money.
The first tip is to get yourself acquainted with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO.gov). This is the official governmental site for you guessed it, patents and trademarks. The site is totally free and they have a wonderful search feature where you can put the names in, the business names you were considering, and they come back if the name is used or not.
Now a couple things about the results you get. First off any good Trademark Attorney will tell you that you don’t need to have to be a exact match to you business name to cause a problem; it may just sound like the other name, something called “Confusingly Similar.” So try different spelling variations of your name.
Second, just because someone is using your business name doesn’t mean that you can’t as well. We always like to use the example of United Airways and United Moving Company. They are both using the company name “United” but because they are in such separate industries, or “Classifications” and therefore not “Confusingly Similar,” they are allowed to use the same name.
That leads us to the last point, you need to figure out what “Classification of Goods and Services” your business falls under with the USPTO. The Pattent Office issues just about everything a classification number, so even if you find your business name idea, but it’s under another classification, you may be good again. You will also need to know this information if you are going to eventually trademark your business name or even trademark your logo, so it’s good to find out now.
After all of this, you should have narrowed your list of potential business names by quite a few. There is no sense falling in love with a business name if you can’t even use it. If you have any questions feel free to post them below or to contact the Best Name Ever Team. Also be sure to check out our other blogs about how to develop the best business name ever.