October 2023

Legal Considerations When Choosing a Brand Name


Written by: Sam Berrin

Choosing a brand name can be a very fun exercise, but I see patterns of legal pitfalls that stagger businesses and individuals. To start, let’s distinguish between the name ideation and evaluation stages because these are often conflated.
The ideation stage is when the business sets its branding objectives and creates a list of candidate names.
The ideation stage is more on the creative side of the line and therefore mostly out of my area of expertise. However, from a legal perspective, there is one crucial point to make about the ideation stage: try to avoid forming an emotional attachment to any name before thoroughly researching and/or seeking legal help (the evaluation stage).
Brand owners can take on a high amount of unnecessary risk by creating emotional attachments to a name that is not protectable or, worse, is infringing upon another’s rights. What typically follows is sinking countless resources into creating and developing this high risk brand name. Realize that no financial investment has been made at the ideation stage, and so it is a great time to pivot away from risk, or at least create a strategy with a trademark attorney to address the risk.