I have dreamed up some great names for businesses, bands and websites over the years, but gave very little thought as to how to protect them. I thought as long as I was using something as an email address or domain name on website, I was somewhat protected. WRONG.
How I Screwed Up – A Cautionary Tale
In 1995, I left a staff position at CNN and started my own production company, Trace Productions. I remember getting my first personal computer, running Windows 95(!) and my first e-mail account. I wanted a catchy email address that had some reference to my business and came up with TraceTV (@aol.com). Man, I thought that was so cool! haha
Since then I have used the moniker “TraceTV” in a variety of ways to identify myself online (user names, email addresses, etc.). I thought it was MINE.
Fast Forward to 2008
In 2008 I started exploring blogging. I love to write and this seemed like a great way to do something I enjoy, share it with others, and expand the reach of my businesses. It was a natural to use the name TraceTV – and to further the idea with products also bearing that name. I had always used it, so why not?
I tried to buy the domain tracetv.com and found that it and most others (.biz, .info, .org etc…) had been taken. But tracetv.tv was available, and again, since my primary business is television production I thought “COOL!” And that’s the blog domain to this day.
So, I had a domain and started publishing this blog and titled it Trace TV – and there have been no complaints, however I found through research that there is an urban hip-hop music TV network called TraceTV and guess what? They own most of the domains and have in fact officially trademarked the name. Still there is no problem calling the blog that, but after consulting with a lawyer I found that I would not be able to use the name to market anything television or music related (which are the arenas that I have plans to market products in). So as a temporary fix, I started calling the blog Trace – TV – Film – Music – Media – reflecting the topics that are generally covered here and attempting to separate it from TraceTV television network.
I discovered two problems with this:
1) Calling the blog Trace – TV – Film – Music – Media is still too close to TraceTV for legal comfort if I ever market any products with that name.
On Facebook, if you want to advertise your page (which I do), the ads you see appearing on right hand column are generated automatically using the name of your business page. You can’t change the layout so if I wanted to keep that name the same the ad would appear something like this:
Trace – TV – F
-ilm – Music –
Not very attractive is it?
Why Not Change Name of Your Existing Facebook Page?
Simply, Facebook won’t let you. Once you start a Facebook business page, the user cannot change the name. Your only option is to start another page and then invite your followers to it. That’s why I am changing it now and I appreciate your patience. I promise not to change it again! The Social Freelancer is here to stay.
I researched a lot of names that would reflect what I am doing with this blog and now we are announcing:
The Social Freelancer (TM). The domain tracetv.tv stays the same, but the name and logo are new. And Now when we promote the page on Facebook the name will display like this:
Much better don’t you think?
How You Can Avoid This Mess!
If you have a name that you like, start taking steps to protect it. The easiest way to begin is to research the availability of domain names – I use GoDaddy to do this – their site is very user friendly, just go there and enter the name you want to use in search box, and in a moment it will display all domains that are available for purchase.
Also do a trademark search at U.S. Patent and Trademark Office site for names you may be interested in using. If your desired name is available and and domains available, then proceed by purchasing as many of the available domains as you can. Generally a domain name can be acquired for between $2.00 and $20.00 per year, depending on the popularity.
These things you can do on your own but I also recommend consulting with an attorney who is well versed in copyright and trademark issues. Discuss your plans for marketing with your desired name to avoid any pitfalls in the future. I have found that there are many exceptions to these guidelines and you need professional advice. You can limit your expense by doing the domain and trademark searches in advance. If the name has already been trademarked and domains are not available, move on to another idea.
Shoulda Woulda Coulda….
I doubt that the urban hip-hop network TraceTV was established back in ’96. If I had taken steps to secure that name back then I may be still using it. So, it’s a lesson learned.
Even if you don’t want to market anything right now, you may in the future, so you’ll be glad if you did your homework and secured it in advance.
Hope you found this helpful – and I hope you’ll “like” The Social Freelancer on Facebook, I promise to keep it interesting.
What’s Your Branding Story?
I’d really love to hear about it. Please comment below, thanks.Trace Ready is a Director of Photography, Writer, Producer and Vocalist based in Dallas, Texas. His band Trace Relations has released their debut studio CD “Prosperity Street”
Connect with Trace: TraceProductions.com
Like this? Help Trace keep his wheels on the road for the photo series “Vanishing Texas” and continue posting to this blog while juggling “the freelance life.” – HERE:
Vanishing Texas Photography by Trace
Supporters receive my undying gratitude and a free copy of my music CD, “Prosperity Street” by Trace Relations Band