We've spoken on the legal side of being in the music industry in past articles, including trademark, copyright and more. Today, we'd like to extend that one step further and talk about how you actually go about getting that done. If you have a band and have the intention of selling albums, you need to get your band name legally trademarked.
A trademark can be obtained by performing the application procedure with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). As soon as it is approved, you will have the sole legal rights to the name, and if anyone uses it illegally, you can sue that person in court.
A band name does not necessarily have to have a deep hidden meaning; it just needs to sound good. People need to want to wear your t-shirts and tell people about your band. If they feel stupid with your name on their chest or feel like an idiot saying the name, then it's probably not a good sign. Try to pick something that people will speak about. Make sure that you read your proposed name in as many different ways as you can as well. Make sure you spot any double entendres or innuendoes before anyone else does, might save some embarrassment later on.
Getting a trademark for your band name requires carrying out proper research to be sure that the name you want to use does not exist. This can be done with the aid of the USPTO database known as Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). You can also use search engines, like Google, to search for the name because other entities may not be registered with USPTO. You should consider different ways of spelling your name because if it sounds the same with existing ones, it may not be approved.
Furthermore, you may consider hiring a trademark attorney or agent to carry out what is referred to as common law search for you. The attorney will check all federal, state and local directories, trade directories and archives, as well as corporate names. This will protect you in the future against possible lawsuits and will also prevent you from going through the application process without getting approval, which can be very frustrating.
The simplest way of filing your trademark request is through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), which gives you the opportunity to fill out and file your complete application, including fees. There are FAQs and tutorial guides that will assist you through the whole process and you can ask for a paper application from the USPTO Assistance Center.
Also, you will be required to confirm that, to your knowledge, there are no other entities possessing the rights to the name you want to trademark. You will also be required to state whether any similar sounding names or logos may lead to confusion with your own. You may also be asked to include a copy of something carrying the name, like CD cover or a screen shot of your website where your materials are sold. A description of the products that will be sold under the name will also be written, including any drawings or designs associated with it.
You should monitor the progress of the application by logging onto the Trademark Applications and Registrations Retrieval system (TARR). The process can last for about 6 months, and if there are legal issues associated with it, it can take years. As soon as it is approved, you will have sole rights to your band name.
Your Turn to Sound Off!
Is your band name trademarked? If so, how would you describe the process?