Steps To Take Before Selecting a Band Name
Upon forming a band, band members typically employ various methods to devise a name for the band. Sometimes the band will use one of the band members names a la Smiths or Jones. Other times the band will develop a name by random selection. Think Smashing Pumpkins. Regardless of how the band chooses the name, certain steps should factor into the process in order to avoid possible legal troubles down the line when the band makes it big. Performing these simple steps at the outset can save the band much frustration and headache down the line, and, in a worst case scenario, could also save the band from having to change its name years later after having garnered success.
Once the band has reached a consensus on the name of the band, the member should do some general research via the internet to insure to the best of their abilities that there is no other band using that name. Taking these simple steps can potentially save the band Thousands of Dollars in the long run:
- Perform a search with various search engines such as Google, Excite, Metacrawler or Altavista. This list is by no means exhaustive and any other search engines you regularly use should be added to your list. The key is to put your investigative hat on! Be as thorough as possible! Don’t assume just because it does not come up on the first page of Google, for example, that it is not listed. This will be especially true if the band name has three or four words in it. In this case, you should perform a separate search with the band name in quotations to see if there is a direct match. Once you are comfortable with your search results using search engines, assuming you have not found any bands already using the name, move on to the second step in the process. Obviously, if at this stage you have located another band using the same or a very similar name, you will want to do as much research about that band as possible. Hurley Stanners, Limited can assist you in deciding whether to abandon your band name at this stage or whether you should still use it. Assuming you found no other bands using your band name or one very similar, proceed to the next step.
- Perform a search of sites which compile databases of band names. Two of the websites with the largest and most comprehensive databases are Ultimate Band List (ubl.com) and BandName.com. Both sites provide services to bands beyond simply registering the band’s name such as providing forums for bands on issues ranging from venues to industry contacts. But most importantly, each site is a valuable tool in determining whether there is another band out there using your proposed name.
- Perform a search of music-related websites. These types of sites include mtv.com, vh1.com, allmusic.com, bandradio.com, metacritic.com, hotbands.com, indie-music.com and amazon.com. Again, these are just some examples of music-related websites. The key here too is to be creative and think about other sites where you might find listings for bands. These sites are all good resources because they let you perform searches within their websites. For example, under the music section of metacritic.com, you can enter a band name and find reviews written about that particular band. The same goes for allmusic.com, which is one of the definitive resources on the internet for any band! Once you are comfortable with this stage of the process and have determined to the best of your knowledge that no other bands exist under your band name, then move on to step 4, which is a little more complicated and requires a bit more patience.
- At this stage, once you have spent some time searching all the possible websites you can think of to locate another band using your band name, you should search the United States Patent & Trademark Office database of registered trademarks to determine whether anyone has registered the name as a trademark. This search can be a little intimidating at first, because depending on the name, you are likely to get thousands of results. The key here is to place quotations around the name of the band. This will ensure that you only get results which are either exactly the name you searched for or those that are very close to it, maybe only one word or two off. The key, once you get the results, is to locate any trademarks from the list which are either exact matches or are very close. Then you must determine what the trademark is used for. This is easier than it sounds. First, simply click on the trademark. That will open the trademarks page which has all kinds of information about the mark. What you want to look for is the second or third line down which is Goods and Services. This section is key to determining what the mark is used for. The trademark may be for a band or musician if it says any of the following:
> Entertainment Services;
> Live Performances by a musical group; or
> Series of musical sound recordings and prerecorded videotapes and videodiscs featuring music.
If you perform this search and find that your band name matches a trademark that is registered and has one of the above categories listed as its description on line 2, then it most likely means you have found a band using that name as a trademark. On the other hand, if you perform this search and do not find a trademark which matches your band name, it does not mean for certain that there is not a trademark for that name. To be absolutely certain, you should consult an experienced trademark attorney who can better assist you in this matter. Hurley Stanners, Limited will be happy to assist you in finding an experienced trademark attorney to assist you. You should be aware that in order to file a trademark for a band name you must have used the band name or logo encompassing the name in “interstate commerce” which means you have used it in another state other than your own. For example, your band could have played a show, sent merchandise or sold cds in another state.
Performing these simple steps does not cost you anything. All you need is a computer with an internet connection and patience. By doing these searches at the early stages of the band’s creation, you can help to insure that you create a band name which the band will be able to use without any problems or without any confusion from other bands with the same name.
THE INFORMATION CONTAINED ABOVE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT ANY ISSUES CONTAINED IN THIS EDITION OF THE CREATIVE ARTS AND SERVICES ARTICLE OR ANY OTHER INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ISSUES, PLEASE EMAIL OR US AT (708) 848-0800.