Working With a San Jose Business Attorney to Name Your Business
A San Jose business attorney may be able to help you if you are attempting to register a trademark for your business. A trademark is any sign or indicator used by any person, business or organization to identify a particular product. A trademark is also used to distinguish a product or service from competitors. A business name is typically eligible for protection as a trademark under state and federal trademark laws. Trademark law is geared towards avoiding confusion among consumers over which trademarks are associated with different businesses. Trademark law renders it unlawful to use a trademark in connection with any service or good that is similar enough to another business’ use of a trademark to cause confusion among consumers. For example, if one consumer purchases an Apple product, he can reasonably expect that the product was made by the well-known Apple entity. Brand reputation, customer service and reliability all factor in when it comes to a consumer’s decision to purchase a product. It is illegal for companies to intentionally misrepresent their product as belonging to another brand for this purpose. Not only does such activity lead to consumer disappointment but it can damage the brand’s reputation.
In general, if someone who produces products or services similar to yours is already using a name or trademark, you should not use it. You should choose a name that is distinct and identifiable with your brand only. There was once no rule or regulation preventing two companies from different industries from using the same name. However, anti-dilution law means that the owner of a famous trademark can prevent any other business from using it, even if the other business has no relation. Famous brand names such as Nike and Reebok should not be adopted for other purposes, even if the industries are vastly different. It was also once accepted for multiple companies to use the same name in different areas of the country. Globalization and the rise of Internet commerce makes this distinction irrelevant and creates the possibility of significant confusion if more than one brand is using the same trademark. This means that you should not choose a name that is similar to one used by another competitor in your field, even if this competitor is located far away from you. Consumers often have a difficult time telling where a physical store is located, leading to significant confusion.
Naming and Securing a Trademark
When you begin to choose a name for your business, first look for a name that is distinctive rather than generic. It should have little to no similarity to any similar business. Your San Jose business attorney may be able to help you determine whether a name is too similar to that of another business. Next, you should search for other businesses that may be using your chosen name. Internet and federal databases of registered trademarks are an ideal place to begin this process. If someone in your field or a closely related one is using the name, you should avoid it if possible. You may be able to use the similar name if someone in another field that is not closely related to yours is using it, but in this case it is important to ensure that all other elements of your branding are fully distinct. When registering your chosen business name, registering a state or federal trademark is often beneficial. Not only is the process relatively affordable, it is simple as well. State trademarks are by far the easiest and most affordable to register, but they only provide protection within your state. While federal trademarks cost more, they take effect nationwide and may be well worth the additional cost.