When you trademark your band’s name, you are making a major investment in the protection of your band’s identity and name, and you’re helping to prevent some major pitfalls and problems – ones that can create big headaches for you down the line. Protecting your band’s identity and name is important to your success – you’ve invested a great deal of time, effort, resources, and talent in your band. Here are five important reasons to register a federal trademark for your band’s name, and how you can address them.
Reason #1: Conducting a Proper Trademark Search and Ensuring Your Band Name is Unique
As the first step of a proper trademark registration, you need to conduct a trademark search to ensure there are not any bands with a similar name already in existence. There may be a band out there that you haven’t heard of, or that isn’t popular in your area – but you still may be infringing on their mark if your name is identical or similar. Federal trademarks give nationwide protection of a mark, so even a small, regional band may be protected in your area if they have a federal trademark registration. Band names are notoriously difficult to research due to the many changes in spelling and other formatting that groups may use, which can cause a mark to be confusingly similar to yours even if they’re not completely identical. A trademark attorney will have access to research tools that can locate any such type of existing identical or similar mark so that you can have reasonable confidence that your name is unlikely to be considered “infringing.”
Reason #2: Obtaining National Trademark Protection of Your Band Name
As I mentioned, federal trademarks give national protection to band names and musical performers, and any merchandise they might sell. In the case of bands that are only well-known regionally, they may not think that they need national protection just yet. But in cases where bands may sign with a major label or begin touring nationally, confusing cases of priority of usage of a band name may occur. A registered trademark can help solve that confusion by establishing a concrete, legally proven date of priority usage for your name. Trademark registration is a case of “the earlier, the better,” in order to give yourself the broadest time period of protection. Remember: just because you aren’t yet nationally popular doesn’t mean that you don’t need federal trademark protection. For instance, if you have a website and sell t-shirts or other goods through it, you are likely engaging in interstate commerce, and you’ll need federal trademark protection. Regardless, even if you remain only regionally popular for an extended amount of time and thus aren’t on another, identically-named band’s radar, it may be difficult for you to prove priority usage if you do expand nationally, without a registered mark.
Moreover, one of the biggest drawbacks of not having a federally registered trademark for your band name is that, if another band does have a similar or identical trademark and successfully challenges yours, you will likely have to change it in some way. Having to change your band name can be devastating to your success – it may be difficult for fans to identify or find you under the new name, and you may have to get rid of unused merchandise featuring the old name – a substantial loss of inventory investment in addition to the crippling blow to your band’s identity and goodwill. Trademark protection gives you a much better chance of being able to defend and keep your band name should any disputes arise.
Reason #3: Protecting Your Band From Trademark Infringement Claims and Liability
If you operate as a band without researching your band’s name, and it turns out that there’s another band in existence with that mark/name, you may potentially be liable for financial damages, especially if the other band claims that the sale of your merchandise (for instance, over the internet) interfered with or confused consumers intending to buy their merchandise. (Conversely, a registered trademark can help protect you if you are being infringed upon). The services of a trademark attorney are critical to thoroughly research existing trademarks and help protect you against a situation where you may be legally required to pay financial damages. A trademark attorney can also use their knowledge and expertise to help you register your trademark in order to gain the full protections and benefits that we’ve talked about here.