how to choose a trademark

Choosing a brand name is an exciting time for any business.   As much as it is fun, it is a very important business decision as well.   So while you hit the white board to brainstorm some great ideas on what to call yourselves, keep this checklist in mind when choosing a trademark.

☑️ Trademark Eligibility

A key factor in determining trademark eligibility will be your mark’s distinctiveness. A distinctive mark is one that easily distinguishes your brand from the competition. As a rule of thumb the more distinctive your mark, the easier it is to trademark.

An example of a very distinctive mark would be a made-up word to suit as a brand name. “KODAK” as a brand name for a camera company is a perfect example. Made-up words like “KODAK” are considered to distinguish a brand very well because they are usually one-of-a-kind words. Also, this type of brand name is typically easiest to trademark because there is likely no other similarly branded company. Trademark lawyers call this type of mark a “fanciful mark”. It costs more to make these marks known to the public, but once it’s known it’s much easier to protect.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a word like “NOTEBOOK” to stand for a notebook company would be nearly impossible to trademark. The word “NOTEBOOK” could not distinguish a notebook company from any other notebook companies because it is too vague and not considered to be distinctive at all. Trademark lawyers call these type of marks “generic marks”.

In the middle of the spectrum may in fact be the ideal — the “suggestive mark.” These marks are considered distinctive enough to actually be protected (although not as strong as fanciful marks), but because they suggest a quality or characteristic of the underlying goods and services, they will provide a strategic market advantage because they already tie the mark to the product in the consumers’ minds without expensive ad buys.

☑️ Translation Friendly

You would be surprised to find that an innocent word in the English language could mean something vulgar in another language. Even if it has an innocent meaning in general in the other language, it could even be offensive in a particular dialect only in use in certain countries. Alternatively, it could mean something entirely different in another country, giving a commercial impression that you did not intend.

Use Google translate to see what your brand name might mean in other languages. It’s smart to check as many translations as possible. Who knows how far your brand’s name will spread? Please consider the fact that with web publishing, your brand could be seen in another country very easily. A potential customer could easily discover your website online or, just as likely, someone could find your brand name mentioned on social media.

☑️ Trademark & Domain Name Availability

Is your domain name or trademark even available? Or, does someone already own them both? You can find out with a free domain name and trademark search on

Also to note, it is often ideal to have the same domain name as your brand name. Otherwise, you might have to settle for a variation of your brand name for your domain name or vice versa. To avoid this, just be sure to conduct both a domain and trademark search.

If your preferred mark meets the above criteria, then it’s time to start testing it. Once you hit upon a mark that you like, make certain to protect your investment by filing an application for a federal registration.

Disclaimer – No Legal Advice:  The information and content available on this site is offered only for informational purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.  Posts are for educational purposes only as to provide general understanding and general information of the law, not provide specific advice.  Blog posts should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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