Owning your brand name is critical for your business, but what many people don’t realize is that owning a trademark on your brand name is not the same as owning a unique name.
Facebook raised a ruckus last year when it applied to trademark “face”–yet there were hundreds of “face” trademarks granted before Facebook made their application. There are almost a thousand trademarks on the name “Delta” for everything from airlines to faucets to power tools. That is because trademarks are granted by classification of goods and services as defined by various international agreements. You cannot own a word exclusively and universally; only for the actual products and services you offer.
You’d be surprised at how many well-known brands share names:
Domino: Sugar and pizza
Burlington: Discount retailer and holding company
Dove: Soap and chocolate
Finlandia: Cheese and vodka
Apple: Records and computers
Eos: Cameras, cars and software
Then there are the sound alikes: Thompson and Thomson, Sonoco and Sunoco, Sysco and Cisco, Coke and Koch…