After co-founding a 29-year-old corporate naming firm that serves giants like Disney and Apple, a San Francisco-based entrepreneur has launched a new platform to help cash-strapped startups with the daunting process of securing a business name that doesn’t breach any existing trademarks around the world.
“About 5 million trademarks are registered worldwide each year, and to get to a name that you’re willing to spend the money [on] to file a trademark application, you’ve probably looked at 50 to 100 names,” Naming Matters founder SB Masters told TechCrunch.
“That means people are looking up something like 500 million names a year.”
Masters is the co-founder of Master McNeil and her new venture, Naming Matters, allows users undertake three free global trademark searches before signing up to the paid platform. The pricing schedule starting at $US32 ($42) for unlimited searches in a 24-hour period, or $US99 ($129) a month.
Masters said for new startups that are thinking global from day one, it’s important to consider if the name you choose for the venture and its products breach existing trademarks in overseas markets.
“If you have 100 names, how do you figure out which are most likely to get you into trouble, and which are your stronger candidates that you should focus on?” Masters said.
“There are legacy providers, but their model is to charge users for every name they look up. If you’re looking for a name in every country and every class, it adds up.”
While TechCrunch Silicon Valley editor Connie Loizos said a trademark dispute cost her $US10,000 ($13,039) in legal fees, Australian startups, such as Caitre’d, formerly YouChews, have faced similar problems.
“I decided I wasn’t going to fight it or get angry,” Caitre’d founder Liz Kaelin told StartupSmart in July 2016, after the startup received a cease and desist letter from a business with a similar name.
Masters hopes Naming Matters will provide a helping hand before such problems eventuate.
“Any business that puts itself online is intrinsically international,” said Masters.
“So even though you may not plan to do business in Germany or the UK or Japan, knowing what’s out there and who could come after you — without hiring an attorney in Tokyo — [is important].
“You’ll be able to see if there’s something there that you should be aware of.”