In this Intellectual Property IP series, in article one we discuss what exactly is it and how you need to protect it. In article two we discuss automatic copyright protection and infringement rights. In this article we discuss naming your business and how to use a trademark to protect it. We also look at the steps you should follow to ensure you are eligible to trademark your business name.
Startups do not see business name value when they first start out in business.
Most business startups do not understand the importance and potential value when naming a business. Usually, they start by asking friends and family for name suggestions based on something they like.
Do not get caught up in the creativity of the idea think logically when naming a business.
In 2014 this happened to one of my clients after naming a business. They had traded their business successfully for five years. They developed internal systems and had selected franchising as their business growth strategy. When the business first started the owner’s Wife had picked the name of a local village as their business name.
To operate as a Franchisor, you sell the Franchisee a license to operate under your brand otherwise known as the “Trade Mark” The point is when they came to register their name as a trademark the name had already been registered.
Look at this image of leading names you may recognised.
Register Your Business Name
If you look carefully after the brand name you will see this symbol. ® This identifies a brand that has been protected by registration.
Many startup entrepreneurs do not think about long terms goals when they set off. They just focus on the idea and quickly getting their first customer.
It’s only later after the business is a success they realise the importance.
After reading this article you will understand why naming your business is crucial to its success.
So let me ask you where do you plan to put your business name?
Most business will use their name on:
- Business card
- Business address
- Companies house (if you set up a company)
- All marketing materials
You will see that until you have identified a business name. It will be impossible to even get started.
Naming a business is the first thing you should do. When you think up your business name you need to make sure the name is available. You need to check the availability of company name, domain name, and trademark.
Startup business selling fine wines online. Business name Schoots.
1. Company Name
Check the name Schoots LTD is available on companies house
Firstly, when you start trading you do not have to trade under the limited company even though you own it. You can keep the company dormant. A dormant company is one that has no accounting transactions and has no significant costs. The main reason for a dormant company is to protect a trading style or product name.
You can register a private limited company directly online at companies house. The cost is £12.00 and will take 24 hours to process. Alternatively, you can use a Company Formation Agent, who will do it for you. Cost vary from £4.99 – £24.99 for a basic private limited formation. You can check out Clickdocs a UK based organisation dedicated to supplying legal documents online.
Full incorporation documents can be found here.
They provide legal documents that are reliable, quick, convenient and affordable. All our documents have been drafted by solicitors, then prepared and encoded to enable easy customisation to suit various requirements. The documents are available to suit the law of England, Wales, and Scotland.
2. Domain Name
The domain name is your unique identity one the world-wide web. It is important when you choose your business name that the domain name is available. Many new business owners miss the opportunity of having their own domain name because they chose their business name before checking name availability.
This leads to abbreviate domains like www.schootsuk.co.uk using our example.
This can later lead to confusion in the brand identity plus weakening of the brand online. You need to register as a minimum.co.uk and .com
For some companies, it may be sensible to register key domain names in multiple jurisdictions for brand protection purposes, i.e. to prevent others from registering the same names. This may be important in countries where anyone can register any domain name or where entities have customers, a trading presence or competitors.
There is various registrar provides like:
In addition, there are plenty of sites that you can use to register a domain make sure you check what extras are included in the packages. Consequently, my personal preference is a free email.
You can check name availability and register a trade mark at the Intellectual Property Office A trade mark is a way for one party to distinguish themselves from another. A trademark can be a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, sound, shape, signature or any combination of these elements.
The name of the business would be the trademark for registration. When you register your trademark, you’ll be able to:
- Take legal action against anyone who uses your brand without your permission, including counterfeiters
- Put the ® symbol next to your brand to show that it’s yours and warn others against using it
- Sell and license your brand
If you decide to register your trademark must be unique. It can include:
- a combination of any of these
However, it can not include:
- Swear words or pornographic images
- Describe the goods or services it will relate to, for example, the word ‘cotton’ can’t be a trademark for a cotton textile company
- Be misleading, for example, use the word ‘organic’ for goods that aren’t organic
- A 3-dimensional shape associated with your trademark, for example, use the shape of an egg for eggs
- Common and non-distinctive, for example, be a simple statement like ‘we lead the way’
- Looks similar to state symbols like flags or hallmarks
If you decide not to register your trademark. You may still be able to stop someone using a similar trademark to yours on their goods and services. This is known as ‘passing off. Even, even if you haven’t registered it. You will need to take advice from a trademark attorney.
In the final article of this IP series we will discuss Patent Box & how your Business could benefit financially.
Never lose sight of the company’s purpose
A Mission Statement announces to the world why you exist as a business. An effective mission statement must be a clear, concise declaration about your business strategy. Don’t underestimate the importance of a mission statement. If you do not already have a mission statement make sure you grab this free 5 step guide.
Download your free 5 steps guide
Personal Skills and Knowledge Development
Invest in yourself, make sure you take time out of your busy schedule to keep up to date with changes in the business world.
- How To Create A Trademark, Protect It and Build Your Brand Author Liam M Birkett
It’s written in a practical ‘kinda folksy’ style which is easy to follow and well structured. Finally, it doesn’t answer all your questions nor does it do the work for you, but it will make you think hard so you do the trademark protection work properly. Good checklist which might save you a fortune someday.
However, one of the keys to building a successful business is laying the right foundations. A few simple steps now. Can lead your business down the right path towards success. Therefore, mark sure you take the time to find a name that will add value to your business.
Question – Do you think trading marking your brand is important? Please leave your comments below.