How much thought did you put into your business name?
Recently, Amber Kotrri made headlines after winning her case against Zara - the world’s largest fashion retailer. Zara attempted to force her to stop using her business name - House of Zana - because they thought it was too similar.
And earlier this year lawyers for the owners of Vogue magazine wrote to The Star Inn at Vogue saying the name needed changing or risk a trademark claim. The landlords pointed out the village of Vogue was a few hundred years older than the magazine! The publishers sent an apology, and the magazine had to live with a few embarrassing headlines in the press.
Trademark battles aren’t always wins for the small business owners though, and with serious money and a team of top lawyers behind them, it’s not a dispute any small business can easily afford. If House of Zana had lost, Amber may have been liable for substantial legal costs as well as changing her boutique branding.
Legally, even a company that has an unregistered brand can potentially take legal action against your brand, alleging you’re ‘passing off’ your products and services as theirs.
To ward against this, it’s wise to check online for similar brand names. You can also use the search for a trademark for free online on the UK Intellectual Property Office page.
We won’t be rebranding from JMC to BBC anytime soon.
Written by Jason Connolly