Business / Domain Names - The Basics
These are my musings and hopefully they contain helpful hints. The opinions expressed are the authors own and are by no means professional advise (status 2010)
In starting a new business I don't belief its good rushing out and buying a domain name. Been there done it, but its better to first do multiple searches across 3 registers and lots of Google searches as well as Adsearch.
A good domain name needs to be search result friendly. Function and brand matter. It could include your business category and business name, such as PetersMotors or AndyHandyman. This includes trademark / brand name as well. How about making your domain name a compound of your name + a classification term, such as MarioAutoMechanics or CaseySuperClinic. Unique Trademarked Brands are a step up from here. Example: SpeedoSwimware, Cre8tiveDesigns, ApexStudio.
Search Google + 3 different Registers
I always start with a few google searches first. In addition Keyword analysis would be highly beneficial as well. Then we need to look at the 3 registers that influence and limit your choice.
Domain names, brands and business names are best selected simultaneously, because three different registers need to be searched and the outcome has an effect on search engine results and choice of final name. It is best to complete the research and planning process and before registering anywhere. In addition a Google search term analysis should be completed as well.
The 3 registers are:
It is important to check the availability of names in all these registers to come up with a harmonized name structure. Whether you want all three names to be the same is your choice. Generally speaking a brand or trademark should always be a bit "made up" rather than generic English. Example Cre8tive. A domain name that is not a big brand id often preferably chosen in descriptive searchable English, such as "Arts Supplies". A good business name and Domain name could be a combo, such as such as "Cre8tive arts supplies". "Andymans Lawn mowing" is another good example.
Handy hints for small business owners on a tight budget.
Intellectual Property considerations for for small business
Please note - this is an Intellectual Property Managers perspective and should not be construed to be professional legal legal, financial or commercial advise.
For the small business owner (sole trader) one of the most common mistakes is lack of diligence in database searching and financial overcommitment. Another common mistake is premature publishing of the patentable idea and its application (embodiment). In many countries it is not possible to get a patent once an invention has been made know to the public. Say you had a great idea for a new iphone application and have decided to market it online straight away. You may have just burned a lot of money. So what needs to be done ? You need to keep the idea secret, search the most important patent office data bases and check out if your idea is new. If it is new, not obvious and sufficiently different from what you have seen before (inventive step) then you may have a good chance to get a patent. The first data base to check should always be the USPTO data base. This is the globally most significant patent office where almost all patents of significant value get filed. Other important patent offices are the European patent office and Japan (and more recently China as well).
Protecting your invention for less than $100 with your self draft provisional patent application or a deposit in an invention data base is a good move when you are on a tight budget and are not sure if the greatness of your idea and its success in the market deserves spending ten thousands of dollars. A prov patent application gives you a certain level of protection before you test the market and look for money.
However the level of protection you gain depends on your technical and legal drafting skills and hence the professional advise given is always to use a patent attorney. Allow for $ 5000 to start with. So in the end it is up to you to determine your budget size and risk appetite.
Brands and Trademarks
Very different from patents. It is all about names and the motto is "use it or loose it". Choose a name that is easy to trademark and then publish it with the initial TM behind and start using it immediately. Publish it, trade, sell. If your business grows well you can later register your trademark and pay your trademark attorney if necessary. Filing a trademark yourself is also much less complicated than filing a patent. Once the trademark is granted you can place and (R) for registered behind your brand name. Important to remember the main reason for having a registered trademark is that it is easier to defend in court. But you still have a trademark without registering it, just the same as copyright.
You don't need to register your copyright, it's inherently yours, but you should be diligent in documenting your creativity and claim."Creativity and dates" is the motto here. You have it by virtue of being an author. However it does make good sense to display your copyright where ever you can, because that makes it easier to stake your claim and defend it in court.