Deciding on what you think will be a brilliant name for your business, product or service is no easy task. In fact, it takes some business owner’s months. In this article, BINH REY provides guidance on what needs to be considered when deciding on a trademarkable brand for a business.
Many small business owners decide on ‘descriptive’ names they would like to trademark for the business, product range or services they wish to market to potential clients. By using the example of three different brands of supermarket blueberries, we look at some of the issues to be considered when developing and creating names for products or services.
The three brands pictured below are OZ Berries, Betty Blues and Eureka Blueberries.
Tip 1: The brand name should not include a geographic location or descriptive words.
Trademark rules do not allow you tie a geographic location to your product, service or business name. A geographic location could be a country, suburb, city, and township. This should be avoided.
In the case of our OZ Berries example, OZ Berries Pty Ltd was not successful in obtaining their trademark when they applied for it in 2011. As OZ is associated with Australia (a geographical location) and Berries is descriptive of the product being blueberries. Even though they were not successful in obtaining a trademark, there may have been a silver lining to their failure because if they could not have it, then no one else could either. The downside being that the owners of OZ Berries will now find it difficult to protect their brand name if a competitor wants to use it, or a similar name in future.
It is for this reason that business owners should choose a name that can be trademarked from the outset. Additionally, if they have plans to expand overseas, they need to do their research ensuring that the name is available in the countries in which they wish to promote and sell their products or services. Tip 2: A brand should be distinctive, not descriptive
Many small business owners tend to think that by adding their surname to a ‘descriptive’ word makes their brand distinctive. However, this is not a good idea. It is often difficult to trademark a surname which is shared by many people. A rule of thumb for surname trademarks is that to be successful the surname cannot have more than 750 registered residents within the country where the trademark is being registered.
In our blueberry example, Betty Blues could be a person. The name gives the blueberry brand a personal identity. Even though the brand name has the potential to raise the surname issue, it was found that there were only twenty-one families in Australia with the surname ‘Blues’. Twenty-one is well below the 750 surname rule, leaving this brand open to be trademarked.
Betty Blues is a creative name for this type of consumer product, and their logo is distinctive. If the consumer has a good experience eating these blueberries, there is hopefully a good chance they will remember the brand and choose it over and above a generic supplier. Tip 3: Unique selling point
The other blueberry brand we are examining is EUREKA®. This is another creative brand name which conveys to the consumer that this is a uniquely Australian product which may also bring with it a surprise or two for the taste buds.
The word Eureka has two meanings in the Australian lexicon (i) a cry of joy or satisfaction when one finds or discovers a secret or a nugget (ii) the Eureka Stockade of 1854, the miners revolt, which historians suggest provided the seeds for the Federation of Australia.
This example demonstrates how a brand can be created so it has strong associations with a time or place without explicitly using a non-trademarkable identity or location. Should Eureka blueberries have been named ‘Eureka Ballarat Blues’ it may not now be a registered trademark.
Deciding on the name of future business ventures, products or services needs careful consideration, especially if seeking to trademark.
To save time, cost and heartache it is vitally important when launching a new business, product or service to check if the name you have chosen infringes on an existing trademark or if in fact it can be trademarked at all.
Betty Blues Australian’s Finest Blueberries (logo) is a registered trademark of R.W. Pascoe Pty Ltd. Eureka Blueberries® is a registered trademark of Mountain Blue Farms Pty Ltd.