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What to do when your trademark is already taken

Going back to the drawing board? Try these three tips.

You were so pumped about your business name and were gung ho to trademark it. But then you took it to a trademark lawyer and got some bad news: your trademark is already taken and you need a new name.

But where to start? You don’t have experience in marketing, so coming up with a new name feels daunting. You’re wondering how other successful businesses have done it. I’m here to tell you: there is a method to the madness. Here are three methods for finding a business name that you love and that will make a good trademark candidate.

Find your inner Dr. Seuss

How do you find a trademark that no one else has thought of yet? Find your inner Dr. Seuss. In other words - make up a new word! Made-up words make great trademarks because they are unique and less likely to be taken. Some of the biggest names around are made up words, such as Google, Pepsi, and Exxon.

If coming up with a completely new word feels like too much, try combining words that already exist. Brands that have done this successfully include Instagram (a combination of the words “instant” and “telegram”), Groupon (a combination of “group” and “coupon”), Verizon (a combination of “veritas” and “horizon”), and Pyrex (a combination of “pie” and “nonex”).

This is a good time to be random

Another strategy is to pick a random word - something that has nothing to do with what you are selling. Examples of random words that have made great trademarks include Yahoo! (the internet company), Apple (the tech company), Caterpillar (the construction equipment company), and Toll House (the cookie company). Random words are less likely to be taken, yet might roll off the tongue a bit better than a made-up word.

Give honor where honor is due

The final method is to play with the names of people who have inspired you in some way. For example, Listerine is a nod to Dr. Joseph Lister, the surgeon who pioneered antiseptic surgical methods. Samsonite is a play on the name “Samson”, the strongman from the book of Judges in the Bible.

Drawing inspiration from names can be a great way to brainstorm a trademark. However, there are two things to be wary of. First, trademarking is more simple if the person is deceased. If the person is not deceased, you may need their permission to use their name. Second, even if the person is deceased, if the person was famous or well-known their name may already be trademarked by their foundation or their estate. So it may help to steer clear of well-known figures.

Coming up with a great trademark can require some creativity, but it can also be fun to play around and see what new words you can invent. Use these three methods to get your creative juices flowing!

Thanks for reading the Bevel Law Blog! While this information is hopefully helpful to you, nothing in this blog is intended to be legal advice. Always consult a lawyer before making any legal decisions based on topics in this blog.

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