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james_lohr

Securing A Product Name

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Hello,

 

After three years, I'm pretty close to launching an Android game that I've been working on in my weekends.  It's quite clearly, against the odds, going to be a huge smash hit. ;)

 

Anyway, I've got a great name for it that I would like to secure somehow.  

I think it's relatively unlikely for the name to be taken in the next few months before the launch, but I would be kicking myself if it were.

So my question: what is the best way to secure a product name?

 

So far, I've been keeping the game largely secretive because, quite frankly,  I enjoy product development and not marketing.  Please hold back on the spiel about how the game is going to flop without marketing: I'm not particularly concerned about how commercially successful the game is.  I'm simply interested in putting out something of studio quality that users love.  Preferably with a suitable name.

 

Another reason for keeping it secretive is that there is a little bit of risk that my employer (a leading Technology company) may frown upon it as a potential conflict of interests.   Admittedly it serves as an excellent recruitment tool where I work:  "Oh, you've made an Android game in your free time? That's cool, let me show you mine too!". And it's a great way, as a manager, to stay in touch with my engineers.   However, as soon as I go putting my energy into setting up a company, marketing and doing other energy-sapping activities that I'm not interested it, I'm the first to admit that it does actually start to become a minor conflict of interests.  I make the game largely for therapy: coding and drawing brings me a deep inner joy and peace.

 

In short, I'd like to minimise the risk of losing the name whilst also minimising the extent to which I engage in business and marketing activities.

Your advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

Edited by james_lohr

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Unless you trademark it, you can't really "secure" it. Book titles don't qualify for copyright protection and I believe the same applies to game titles. From what I understand, trademark protection isn't usually granted for something that's not widely known -- but "who used it first" is one of the considerations in trademark cases, so at least getting the domain name for it, etc., might help. (IANAL)

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Unless you trademark it, you can't really "secure" it. Book titles don't qualify for copyright protection and I believe the same applies to game titles. From what I understand, trademark protection isn't usually granted for something that's not widely known -- but "who used it first" is one of the considerations in trademark cases, so at least getting the domain name for it, etc., might help. (IANAL)

You can register a trademark at any time, but... if someone else steals it, you have to sue them to get any justice.
And in that court case is where all the details get argued - who's product is more popular, who used it first, etc...
If the person who's "stolen" it is actually trading a product, while you're still developing a product, they could well win the case.
So to protect a name, you have to actually be using it, and suing anyone else who tries to steal it...

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What you want is to fill out a Intent-To-Use application with the trademark office. This will cost you a bit (around $300 give or take) but you can reserve the name for a short time. The reason most people don't do this is that it is essential free to own a name if you are the first to use it.  Even if a name is taken you are can still probably be fine if there is little or no chance of confusing. for example if I publish a book called "NewGame" and then a week later you publish your game called "NewGame" you are still protected because the average person will understand that a game and a book are not the same product. One last note, you can't "warehouse" a name, which is reserving the name because you think you might someday use it.

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