Take care when choosing a name for your business and what you sell

When you start a business, or when you’re coming up with a name for your service or product, or even re-branding don’t forget to check first if anyone else is already using the name. If they are, they may well be able to stop you using it, which could involve you in a lot of cost and expense as well as wasted time in promoting something whose name you risk being forced to change.

Checking on Google, Companies House and the trade mark section of the Intellectual Property Office should flush this out in most cases, if anyone is using that name or something likely to be found as similar. If you’re selling outside the UK, you should also check in the relevant countries concerned.

If you think that now or in the future you may want to trade mark your brand, it’s important not to choose something that is merely descriptive of the product or service (for example, Fizzy Pop and as opposed to Coca Cola).  In that case, the most you are likely to get a trade mark for is the name with a logo and not exclusive rights to the name itself. Whilst on the subject of logos, if you don’t design it yourself make sure you get the designer to transfer the rights of the logo to you.

Some have even gone to the length of changing their name by deed poll to try and get the name they wanted. Well known beer brand Brewdog wanted to trade mark a drink as Brewdog Elvis Juice, so the founders changed their name to Elvis! Not surprisingly perhaps their attempt failed.  

Blanchards Bailey

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