What's In a Name? Possibly a Trademark Dispute

One of the most common examples of intellectual property that business owners should to protect it is a name - its business name, product name or, in limited circumstances, the name of a person.

Trademarking a name can be more complicated than people expect, especially when disputes arise.

Dr. Dre vs. Dr. Drai

A few years ago, a Pennsylvania doctor filed an application to trademark the name he uses marketing and branding his medical services: Dr. Drai. His application was challenged by California iconic rap artist and businessman, Dr. Dre.

Dr. Dre filed the challenge on the basis that trademarking the name would create confusion between the two parties and lead people to believe there was a connection between the medical doctor and the music mogul.

Recently, though, the court dismissed Dr. Dre's complaint saying that there was not enough evidence to demonstrate that people would be confused or misled about the different good and services.

Trademarking a name

Trademarking a name is an important way to protect your image, brand and reputation, by registering it and preventing others from usurping it. The first prong can be challenging if a name is not distinctive or if it is not being used for purposes of commerce. In the case of Dr. Dre, the outcome may have been different if the medical doctor did not have immediate plans to use the name for business purposes.

With all this in mind, business owners would be wise to discuss with an attorney the process of securing a trademark. This includes determining if the name is already protected, creating a valid application and responding to any challenges that may arise.

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