Launching a new product requires a lot of investment, both in time and effort, and it is therefore important to do all you can to ensure that there will not be conflict or issues further down the line and to ensure the intellectual property rights in the product are robustly protected.
Here are my top tips for avoiding the pitfalls:
Do your homework!
It is key to check that no one is already using the proposed name of your product in order to avoid a claim of trade mark infringement or passing off. In order to do this, you need to conduct clearance searches. These should search the trade mark registers of the territories you are looking to sell your product in, in order to identify if the name is registered as a trade mark. You should also run Google searches to see if the name is already being used but as an unregistered mark.
If you find that an identical or similar name is already in use, for identical or similar goods and/or services, then you will need to reconsider this choice of name or see if you can seek a coexistence arrangement with the owner of the earlier rights.
Choose a distinctive name
You want your product to stand apart from other products, particularly those that are in a similar market to yours, so choose a distinctive name! The added advantage of this is that if you want to obtain registered trade mark protection for your product name, the level of distinctiveness of the name is assessed as part of the application process. Names that are devoid of distinctive character and merely designate the goods and services provided under the mark will be refused by the examiner.
Protect your product
After all the time and effort that has gone into developing your product and branding it, remember to protect it! A registered trade mark will provide you with a monopoly right to use the name (for the goods and services the registration covers) and therefore give you a robust right that you can use against infringers. A registered trade mark is also a valuable asset that investors will often expect you to have.
Other intellectual property rights might be applicable to your product, such as design rights and patents, so seek professional advice regarding how to fully protect this.