In the world of new media law and business, a name is not just a label and trademark protection in new media is as paramount as any other type of intellectual property protection plan. A new media trademark is a brand, an identity, and a significant asset. The famous line from Shakespeare, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” might hold true in the context of romance, but in the commercial world, the name of a company, its brand, domain addresses, slogans, and keywords are pivotal. They are not just elements of a marketing strategy but are crucial intellectual property assets that need legal protection and strategic branding.
In this blog, we will explore the importance of trademark protection in new media, covering various aspects such as brand and trademarks, DBAs and company names, domain names, URLs, and social media profiles.
Brand & Trademark Protection in New Media
Consider a hypothetical scenario where a well-known legal services company, Avvo, decides to change its brand name to Shmavvo. Legally, if the new name does not infringe on an existing trademark, this is permissible. However, from a marketing perspective, such a change could be detrimental. Avvo, as a brand, has built equity and a customer base that recognizes and trusts its name. A sudden shift to Shmavvo could lead to confusion and a potential loss of brand loyalty and recognition. This example underscores the importance of a brand name in maintaining customer relationships and market presence.
DBAs (Doing Business As) & Company Names
When it comes to DBAs, which are generally filed at the county level, or corporations and limited liability companies formed at the state level, trademark considerations are paramount. For instance, if someone were to start a business providing canned soft drinks under the DBA “Coca-Cola” in Los Angeles County without filing a trademark application, they would be infringing on the trademark rights of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company. This infringement could lead to legal action, highlighting the importance of understanding and respecting trademark laws when choosing a company name.
Domain Names & URLs
The digital age has made domain names and URLs critical assets for businesses. However, these too are governed by trademark laws. For example, if a startup mobile app company registers the domain www.zynga1234.com, it could face legal challenges from Zynga, Inc., the famous mobile games publisher. Zynga could argue that the use of its trademark in the domain name constitutes infringement, potentially leading to a legal dispute.
Trademarks & Social Media Profiles
Similarly, using social media handles that incorporate well-known trademarks can lead to legal issues. If the aforementioned startup uses @zynga1234 as its X (formerly Twitter) or Facebook handle, it could be accused of trademark infringement and unfair competition. This scenario illustrates the need for businesses, especially new media startups, to be cautious and strategic when selecting their social media identities, and seek trademark protection in new media ventures sooner than later.
The Evolving Importance of Names in Business
Names, in the context of new media, have evolved to become more significant than ever before. Thanks to federal trademark law and common law trademark rules dating back to 17th-century mercantile statutes in England, brand owners have legal recourse to protect their domain in the increasingly vital new media landscape.
In conclusion, the importance of a name in new media cannot be overstated. It’s a complex interplay of legal protection, branding strategy, and market positioning. As businesses navigate the digital landscape, understanding and respecting trademark laws becomes crucial in safeguarding their brand identity and ensuring their longevity and success in the market.
About the Author
David N. Sharifi is a Los Angeles intellectual property and business attorney with a special interest in trademark protection in new media, startups, and mobile publishing. His expertise in the field makes him a valuable resource for businesses looking to navigate the complexities of trademark law in the digital age. He can be reached at 310-751-0181 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Navigating the intricate world of trademarks in new media is a challenging yet essential task for businesses. Understanding the legalities and strategic implications of your business name, brand, and online presence is crucial. If you have further questions or need assistance in this area, feel free to contact us for professional guidance. Your name is not just a label; it’s the cornerstone of your brand’s identity and success in the digital marketplace.