Name Dispute and How to Prevent It

Good names are a valuable commodity — and that is precisely why they often give rise to disputes. Anyone who has a good company name or brand name wants to keep it as exclusive as possible and defends it against similar names that carry a risk of confusion. Such disputes often end up in court and are expensive. What can one do when searching for a name to avoid such a quarrel later on?


Heated battle for company names

There are some examples of well-known brands that were once under a different name, and had to be renamed due to a dispute. For example, the popular browser "Firefox" has been renamed twice: The BIOS manufacturer "Phoenix Technologies" had something against the original name of "Phoenix," and the subsequent name "Firebird" did not appeal to the open source database of the same name.

But even quirky-seeming quarrels of brand giants against small companies show the value of a good name. The small turbocharger repair shop, "turbocheck24," will soon have to rename itself after a cease-and-desist declaration from the well-known comparison portal, "Check24" fluttered into their office. And brand giant, "Red Bull" has forced both a burger restaurant called "Guter Bulle" and a German basketball team "Blue Bulls" to change their names. Aren't those peanuts for such big, internationally known brands like Check24 and Red Bull? Apparently not, because the burger shop is now called "Traumkuh" ("Dream Cow") and the basketball players became the "Panthers."

Of course, you want to avoid such disputes with brand giants and competitors if you are looking for a good name for your start-up or product. The magic words in this case are, of course, trademark search—and as detailed a search as possible—in order to be relatively safe from unpleasant disputes even before registering the trademark name. In trademark searches, it is important to conduct a somewhat broader search in addition to the purely identical search—i.e., typing in the full name—in order to quickly find similar, possibly critical trademarks. The NameRobot tool Trademark Check helps here, with which you can search name ideas for protected trademarks in advance.


One word is decisive

For example, if you want to use a name consisting of two compound words, such as "Firefox" or "Rockbird", it's a good idea to enter both words individually into the database to see the results. Some word elements —such as the "Bull" in Red Bull—are so relevant to the brand that there is a threat of name conflict even if it is a completely different term added to it (i.e., "Good Bull").

But even seemingly less conspicuous words, like a color in the company name, can be classified as decisive and therefore become a point of contention. A company that calls itself "Blue Visions" would, if appropriate, successfully oppose the registration of a new "Blue Inclusive" brand, provided that both offer the same goods or services.

Write differently—avoid disputes

The spelling in the search can also be changed slightly, and vowels and consonants can be exchanged, for example, to exclude similar trademarks. If the name is written, for instance, with a double vowel and/or a "y" (e.g. with yuuvis), one should also check it with the single vowel *yuvis* or as spelled with "j" *juuvis*. Thus, registrations with the same sound or only one letter of difference are also discovered.

Of course, the trademark attorney is the final adviser for the trademark application. This is, however, associated with costs and the disappointment would be great if the finally chosen favorite name cannot be used due to older rights, or must be changed later on. With an extended trademark check, you can exclude many questionable cases in advance, and avoid unnecessary costs at the lawyer's due to trademark infringements.

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