Part III: Branding Your Idea – Domain Name
The business world consists of many alternate universes. Existing real world businesses are often recreated as parallel universes in the cyber world. By that I mean there are companies that transformed the world: Groupon with couponing discounts; eBay with online auctions; Amazon for sale of retail and consumer products; banking online; Craig’s List; job search firms; dating services, etc., all of which have transformed the real world into the cyber world on steroids.
So what does this mean? It means to be successful in the business world now, your business must have a cyber world presence, one that can be carried out online and in cyber space. Take your idea and start thinking broadly about your presentation in the cyber world in order to brand your product or service.
The branding must be unique. It must be simple and if possible, descriptive of the product or service you intend to provide. Most importantly, you must be sure that the name is not deceptively similar to other existing businesses. An online search should reveal if someone else is already using the name you are considering. If the name is similar to one used by an existing enterprise, you will most certainly be facing a claim or a lawsuit from the other business. You must also start thinking about a unique logo or symbol.
This branding analysis must be rigorous and well thought out. You must undertake a thorough online search to confirm that no one else is already using that name. You can Google the name in a preliminary search, as well as search the name on the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) website. A “no show” on the USPTO website will not indicate if there is a registration in process; only if one exists. There are professional search firms who can provide a thorough search of many databases (including the publication where potential trademarks are publicized for opposition). You do not want to spend substantial amounts of money for business cards, a website, logo and literature only to discover that your business encroaches on an existing enterprise in the cyber world.
Virtually every good “dot com” name has been taken and dot com names are recommended for businesses. Many dot com names are available for purchase if you are prepared to pay for the name. Do a “whois” search at www.register.com/whois.rcmx or https://instantdomainsearch.com, for instance, to find contact information for the owner of the name you may be interested in purchasing. You may offer to buy the name and, although premium domain names can go for several hundred dollars or more, you should consider paying a reasonable amount for a good name. If purchase of a dot com name is not possible, you may have to work hard to distinguish yourself firm the existing entities in the marketplace, and perhaps a “dot net” with other unique words may distinguish your business from existing ones.
The importance of branding cannot be over-emphasized. This is your identification for the present and the future. It is your contact with the world and potential customers. Your customers must have the ability to reach you through search engines and Google searches in particular.
After your online search reveals that no one else is already using the identical name desired, you are ready for the next step: registration in Arizona, which we will cover next month.
Once you have clearance of your chosen name in Arizona, as well as nationally, a domain name can be obtained by Googling “how to obtain a domain name.” The third item in the search is a link to the “Best 10 Domain Name Hosts-Consumer Rankings” that gives you price and services offered by each.
Lat J. Celmins
Disclaimer: This blog is for information purposes only. Legal advice is provided only through a formal, written attorney/client agreement.