When people are searching businesses, they can get confused when they come across two businesses with similar names.
While you can’t prevent a company in a different industry from popping up with a name similar to yours, there are some things you can do to make sure the name (and domain name) for your new venture is less likely to lead to confusion.
Uber Ops is a data integration company in Florida. In recent years the ride-hailing app Uber has become more popular, leading to all kinds of confusion for UberOps.
According to UberOps, it has been inundated with thousands of phone calls, faxes, and emails from people trying to reach the ride hailing company. People have sent sensitive information, like info for background checks, to UberOps rather than to Uber. UberOps has even received packages sent to them in Florida that should have been shipped to the Uber company offices in California.
Because of the controversy around the ride-hailing app’s business activities, UberOps has even received government orders meant for the ride hailing company. Yikes!
The intrusion has been so persistent that UberOps is suing the ride hailing company for alleged trademark infringement.
And while it seems crazy, UberOps isn’t the first company to experience this type of confusion. It’s actually quite common, particularly when a company sets up a relatively local base of operations and another company launches nationally.
Search Google for the Name
You can’t always prevent another company from taking your name, but you can start off on the right foot when naming your own company.
Take a few minutes and do a Google search on your proposed business name. What comes up on the first page of the search results? Are there other companies using your name for their own business, or for any of their products or services?
Check to make sure that none of these companies are in the same line of business or industry as your own business. If there are a lot of results, can search for “company name” and a keyword related to your business, such as “bakery” or “plumbing”.
Avoid Common Names
Certain names are quite common and are used by many companies in various industries around the world. When I search Yelp in Austin for the word Apollo, the results include: an auto body shop (Apollo Paint & Body), a video game store (Apollo Games), a dog trainer (Apollo Dog Training), a doctor (Apollo Endosurgery) and a roofing company (Apollo Roofing and Painting).
That’s just one city— and just the first five results, too!
If you pick a name that’s used by a lot of other businesses, be prepared for confusion. It will also be harder to find an available domain name that matches your business.
Check the Trademark Database
Searching a trademark database will help you figure out if other companies are using a similar name and what industry they are in. There are lots of databases you can search, but a user-friendly trademark search tool is Trademark247.
If you find a company owns the trademark for your business name (or a part of it), you’re better off avoiding this trap altogether. Companies with trademarks are obligated by the US Trademark Office to actively protect their trademark. These companies often have lawyers searching for violations. If you use their trademark in your own business, even unintentionally, you might have to change your name later.
Do your homework ahead of time. This way you can avoid the lost customers, rebranding expenses and other headaches that come from trademark disputes.
Avoiding Confusion is an Ongoing Process
Avoiding confusion isn’t something you do once. You should continually monitor to make sure new companies aren’t adopting names similar to yours. Also, consider getting a registered trademark for your name to reduce the chances of someone picking a similar one.
Looking for the name for your next business? Search for domains on Namecheap.