Right so you have found your brand name. When you establish an online brand or presence you want to make sure that it is protected. You want to use it to make money and grow your business. You do not want to go to the effort and expense of building a brand that identifies and distinguishes your goods or services from others, without protecting it and making sure that no-one else can erode its value.
So what should you be doing? Can I register a trade mark? Can my company name be the same as my trade mark? Do I own the copyright?
You might want to consider registering a trade mark with the SA Trade Marks Office. The first thing to do is to conduct a trade mark search. A search in the records of the registrar of trade marks to determine whether it is possible to register it. This is the first hurdle to clear.
It is worth doing this whether you are going to register the trade mark or not. You don’t want to start using a trade mark and then receive a nasty letter from a lawyer on behalf of a trade mark owner. If no-one else is using the trade mark then you can consider whether it is possible and whether you want to register it.
Next you want to check the register of company names at the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission or CIPC. A brand is unlikely to work if there are five other companies that have the brand in their name.
You may well want your domain name, your trade mark, and your company name to be the same. For example, Grand Bridge Trading 34 (Pty) Ltd, trading as YOUR BRAND is not nearly as nice as YOUR BRAND (Pty) Ltd. By searching for company names that include your brand you can also get an idea of who else might be using your intended brand or trade mark. You do not want there to be confusion between your goods and services and another’s.
The purpose of a brand after all is to distinguish your goods or services so that people remember them.
You may also have copyright in your brand, but it is not really worth worrying about at this point. It is automatic and does not need to be registered.