So What’s in a Name?
You’ve perfected the recipe, know the product is good, and now you want to begin to start marketing it. But you’re no imbecile. You know that before you introduce the world to the miracle that is your new concoction, you want to position it correctly in the market. And that means, among other things, picking the right name.
So what’s in a name? The answer depends on what you want to protect, and whether you want to get into a fight.
Recent actions by the United States Patent and Trademark Office suggest that the agency is viewing essentially all alcoholic beverages as related. What that means, is that if the name of your product is confusingly similar (or potentially so) with the name of another alcoholic beverage, then you are not likely to get a trademark on the name. And no, it doesn’t matter if your product is a top-shelf artisanal organic wheat whiskey made from hand-curated grain which was crushed between the delicate (but slightly salty) palms of mermaids, and the other product is mass-produced pilsner which has been churned out by the tankful since the end of prohibition. If the other product already has trademark protection – you’re not getting your name.
But even if you don’t plan on getting trademark protection – consider whether the other product’s owners might be troubled by your use of the name. Because chances are good that they will. And if they do, then you should expect to get a cease and desist letter gently encouraging you to stop using the allegedly confusing (and infringing) name. If you’re just launching your product, this is not a fight worth fighting. So pick another name (one for which you can get trademark protection if possible) and get to work selling your new delicacy.