If you are looking for a new brand name for your business, product or service it makes sense to do some checks as part of the process. There’s no point coming up with a great brand name if others are using it already, you can’t establish it marketplace, or it can be stolen from under you.
Your brand name
The law can help protect your intellectual property in various ways. Some of these ways can put your brand name on hold, protecting it even while you aren’t using it, so that it’s there for you when you are ready. Of course, other people might have had the same idea. This is why you must check different areas for whether your brand name is available. If you don’t, you might waste money on a brand name that someone else owns some rights to.
You might want to do a trade mark search with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (or CIPC). This will search through the records of the registrar of trade marks to find out if it’s possible to register your brand name as a trade mark.
This 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 letter from a lawyer on behalf of a trade mark owner. If no one else is using the trade mark, then you can consider using it with or without registering it. Depending on your business, you may want to consider registering a trade mark, or just rely on a common law trade mark.
Next you might want to check the register of company names at the CIPC. A brand is unlikely to work if there are five other companies that have the brand in their name.
It’s often preferable to have all aspects of your brand to be the same – this includes your company name, your trade marks and your domain name. 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 name 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.
It’s also advisable to make sure that the domain name you want is available before you settle on your brand name. To keep your options open, you should make sure that the generic top level domain (e.g. YOURBRAND.com) and the country code top level domain (e.g. YOURBRAND.co.za) are available.
This is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your brand’s online presence.
You may also have copyright in your brand, but that isn’t really worth worrying about at this point. Copyright is granted automatically and doesn’t need to be registered.
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