The first thing I did once we had finalized the name for our start-up was to check if the name was available or if someone had already come up with (what we thought) a brilliant name. When convinced that we actually had come up with a unique name, we proceeded to register it.
We did not wait to register our entity or start the business.
Why in such a hurry? Well, your brand/entity name is like your personal name, it’s the identity of your startup. You don’t want to be in a situation where you start with a name, work hard to create a brand, and then suddenly midway you have to change it because someone else claims to have the right to use it.
Heaven forbid, if by that time, your company is profitable and you cannot afford to change your brand name, you may have to shell out a lot of money to get rights to the name. Rights to a name, which became valuable, courtesy of your business! I know of a start-up that set up its business, even got enrolled with a prestigious accelerator. At the time of fundraising, the investors insisted on the registration of the brand name. That’s when the start-up realized that the brand name they were trading under was already registered to another company. Imagine the pain of rebranding…How do you justify it to your customers, you are anyway in a phase where you are trying to gain their trust and now you have to change your name because of a technicality! Ignorance is not always bliss, you see!
Remember “Intellectual Property” does not mean only technology or an invention. It also is your brand name or your company’s name. And your priority should be to protect it.
How to go about it? As soon as you have finalized your name, check on the MCA and IP Registry website, if the name is available. Don’t want to go through the pain of doing it yourself? No problem, just click on this link and leave your details, we will check for the availability of your name for free!
Once you have confirmed that the name is available, you can proceed to apply for registration of a trademark. Trademark registration can be done online or through a lawyer/law firm or any trademark agent. Registering a trademark is not expensive, it will cost you in the range of INR 6000/- to INR 10,000/- per trademark registration (including the statutory fees of INR 4000/-). It is a painless process and requires probably just a couple of hours of your time once you have identified the right consultant!
In my next post, I will share with you some valuable considerations for trademark registrations. Till then, I hope you all have double-checked and ensured that you “own” your names!