Before launching a new website or new web business, there a few simple tips that business owners can take to help make success (both branding and legally) more likely.
- Choose a name that is (a) creative and unique in your industry, and (b) that is easy to remember and easy to spell. NOTE: in many industries finding a unique name can be quite difficult, but don’t give up as it is tremendously important and valuable.
- Choose a name with a corresponding domain name available to acquire. Since a website is primarily accessed via the web, having a correlating domain name is important. Generally the .com is what people expect to see. A domain name ending in .us or .me is not going to be automatically recalled by consumers. While domain names may not be nearly as important in a few years as browsers and devices get more sophisticated and intelligent, for now consumers still expect to see the correlating .com domain.
- File a trademark application with the USPTO to protect the name as soon as possible – and before the site launches.
- Use the proper trademark symbol (TM or SM, probably SM) with name on the site.
- Register several variations of the domain name if possible (.net,;.biz; if two words, with and without a hyphen, etc.). While it may be unlikely that you will use the other variations, it is better (and cheaper) to control their destiny instead of fighting someone else who tries to use them.
CASE STUDY: Launch of The Ringer website from Bill Simmons.
Here is a recent discussion on the Bill Simmons podcast regarding some of these challenges for his new site, The Ringer™. (Start at 9:50.) Note that he filed a trademark application for THE RINGER with the USPTO several weeks before the public announcement.
I really like reading your blog. I’d like to know what you think about this TM application. I think it’s BS, especially the part in the Description of Mark: “The mark also may be able to change any NAME or ROLE or TITLE within the design” Is this legit?
Thanks for your comments and your question. Generally, the USPTO does not allow for a part of the trademark to be changeable (or as they call it, “Phantom”). See TMEP Sect. 1214: