Friday, April 24, 2015

$700,000 for a name?

    If you don't believe that a name can have substantial value, if you don't believe it's worth taking the time to develop a good name for your next perfume, talk to someone in the pharmaceutical industry. Granted, their naming process is a good deal more complicated than what you'll do for a perfume but one of their needs is to find a trademarkable name, just as it should be for you.

    No pharmaceutical company will release a new drug unless its name can be trademarked. It is said that once names are suggested for new drugs, outside trademark consultants review them -- at a cost of from $100,000 to $700,000 per project. They consider names to be that important.

    Fragrance naming is often more casual and even major fragrances have been launched with names that cannot possibly receive trademark protection. But sometimes major brands are launched for a quick profit and the brand owners know that in three years or less the fragrance will be discontinued. But what about your new perfume?

    If you are a small company or an individual with a new perfume, chances are you hope it will sell successfully long past the three year mark and, for you, whether you recognize it or not, the trademark issue is important.

    While there are a number of technical issues that might bar a fragrance name from earning trademark protection, the most common obstacle is prior use by an active marketer of perfume. A trademark cannot be shared.

    If you are creating and selling your own perfume in a casual way with small expectation of sales, you may care little about trademark rights -- or trademark infringement. But if you project involves considerable sums of money, particularly money others have loaned to you or invested in your business, the last thing you want to report to your backers is that all is lost because someone else owns your name.

    Finding a good name for your fragrance can take considerable effort and you never know where a great name might come from. Stories are told of branding agencies being paid considerable sums to develop names only to have the client select a name suggested by an employee.

    But while finding the right name can be a tricky process, checking it for prior use is not so difficult. Even if you are working with lawyers, before you pay them to do a search, you might do a quick search on your own. The "cost" is no more than an hour of your time and it could save you the cost of paying lawyers to try to clear names for you that are quite obviously not available.

    A name might not be as important to you as it would be to a pharmaceutical giant but there are a lot of good reasons why you should put effort into your selection of a name. Picking a name from among "right" names can add value to your business. Thoughtlessly picking a name already in use could cause you some pain. The glorious fact about trademark rights is that you can acquire them without spending a penny -- if you understand how the trademark system works.

    (Thoughts here were inspired by my book, How To Create A More Valuable Name For Your Perfume.) 

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