Unfortunately this isn't so straight forward, and the thorny issue of trade mark infringement can rear its ugly head. Trade mark law is a very complex area, with many court judgements about trade mark infringement requiring mental gymnastics to understand how a decision was reached. A good rule of thumb to follow however when choosing a name is to avoid using a confusingly similar name for similar goods and services to a registered trade mark.
The following check list, although not exhaustive, should provide a handy guide to "choosing a name":
Choose a name that is distinctive and unique if you can. Marks that are descriptive are often harder to register as a trade mark. That's not to say someone won't have a registered trade mark that is descriptive. Sometimes a descriptive mark may be eligible for registration as a result of attracting "goodwill" and reputation through commercial use. Think HAVE A BREAK as an example of a descriptive mark that became a distinctive registered mark.
Do check your proposed name at the UK Intellectual Property Office website using a trade mark search. Bear in mind however that trade mark protection is jurisdictional, so if your target market is the US, for example, you should do a similar search through the United States Patent and Trademark Office website.
Remember that unregistered trade marks can still be protected, so do a google search using your proposed trade mark. If someone is already using your mark for similar goods or services but the mark is not registered as a trade mark, they could still initiate a "passing off" action against you for using a similar mark.
- And once you have settled on your name, and if you engage a third party to design a logo for you using that name, remember to obtain a written assignation of intellectual property rights in the logo from the designer. If your mark is associated later on with a successful company or product, you would not want to find out that you don't own the intellectual property rights in your branding!
If you have any more queries, or would like to register a UK or EU trade mark, please contact Julie Nixon for a quote.