How to choose the best brand name for your business

With the ever-growing importance of marketing, branding becomes an essential part of a company’s growth map. Companies are spending a substantial chunk of their budget, trying to market their brand name, reach more people, have more visibility. Since a brand name is literally your company’s identity, promoting and protecting it is obviously cardinal.
However, even in doing so, companies and brand owners forget the most important aspect – protecting their brand-name from being copied, infringements, unlawful use, etc. Most brand owners have the same perspective – since the protection of a brand name involves investment, why not consider it after it attains some value, becomes better known? Most trademark attorneys have the same perspective too – why would you spend more on creating a brand bigger, but not protect it while doing so? Reaching a point where you have already invested in marketing your brand name, but not protecting it while doing so, could be a precarious situation to be in! 
While we are based in India, we file trademark applications in India as well as across the world. In our experience, concepts of the trademark laws, what makes a good mark, etc. are similar across the world. 

How to select a good brand name?

Trademark law has the following thumb rules that help one select a good brand: 

– Choose a mark that is not common for your goods or services; for e.g. using the brand name “Apple” for selling apples is not recommended at all. 

– Choose a mark that does not already exist, predominantly, or is very well known for other goods or services; for e.g. trying to register “Facebook” or even say, “face-paper” for a social media platform is not a great idea! 

– Ensure that you do not use any offensive, insulting, inflammatory, hurtful words, signs, colours, icons, etc. to any segment; 

– While your mark must be unique, it should also be easy to remember to help your customers remember you!

How to protect your brand name?

To protect your brand name:
– File a trademark application for your brand name; 

– If you have a stylized brand name – it is advised to file an application for both a simple wordmark as well as the stylised representation of the mark;

– If you have a logo as well, it is always advised to file 3 separate applications – one for the wordmark, one for the logo, and a consolidated application with both the word and device mark. 

– If yours is an industry or business where colour of the mark also forms a very important part of the branding, you must protect your mark with the Pantone codes as well; 

– Take timely action against infringers or entities trying to use similar marks to yours in your industry. 

What is required to file a trademark application in India?
To file a trademark application in India:

– you can choose to file the application as an individual or an entity.

– you need to pick a class relevant to your business 

– you need to authorise an agent through a power of attorney

– if you have been using the brand name before filing the application, you should claim use from the earliest date and provide evidence of use accordingly; 

– have a user affidavit created and filed by a professional; 

What action can you take against someone infringing your mark?

If someone is using a brand similar to yours, you must take timely action against them. To begin with, sending a cease and desist notice through a lawyer is a recommended action. If things aggravate you can also choose to file an infringement suit and claim financial loss and damages by such unauthorized use. 

Can a trademark application, once filed be assigned to any other individual?

Since trademarks have become intangible assets for businesses, Trademark applications can be transferred from one party to another: an entity to another, an individual to another, an individual to an entity, etc. 
Trademark applications can now be valued and then transferred through a license, assignment, sale, etc. for monetary benefits to the person who has created, promoted, and invested in the brand name. In fact, trademarks are also valued and transferred separately during a merger, acquisition, takeover of a business, etc. 

Can a business in one country, file an application in another country?

With cross-border transactions becoming extremely easy and the internet diluting borders for online services, trademark applications are being filed easily in several countries, even without the physical presence of a business in such a country. A company could be located in one country and choose to file an application in 10 others. Rules of where a trademark can be filed and how will obviously differ from one country to another.  

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