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What is and isn't acceptable to use in a new business name?

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  • What is and isn't acceptable to use in a new business name?

    ok, so we're looking for a new name for our website. It sells things with a spaced based theme from a popular franchise. The products we sell are licenced products of the franchise (via a 3rd party). So there is no problem with the products we sell, we just want a name that doesn't infringe on anyone's IP (especially the franchises), whiles still being vaguely memorable and space themed.

    One suggestion that we liked was "Dark Star". It's kind of memorable, space related and the specific domain we're looking at is available.

    But a quick google search reveals that there is a 1974 film called "Dark Star" (no, me either). So does that mean that, because there was once a film called Dark Star that the particular combination of words is now off limits for all time?

    Or can we use it if we're using it in a way that is completely unrelated to the film, selling a completely unrelated range of products is that ok? For example if we are selling licenced space themed mugs, from say the BattleStar Galactica franchise, could we call the website "Dark Star Mugs"? Clearly there is no relation between the film and the product we sell, and therefore no attempt to associate ourselves with the film.

    Also, in this case, Dark Star is an actual (scientific) thing. Like a gas giant, or supernova, or blackhole. So if someone names a movie after a "thing" that existed before the movie, can the movie "hijack" the word? (Note: Supernova and Blackhole also happen to be films, so does that rule out Blackhole Plumbing? SuperNova Demolitions?)

    ps. The above names are just examples to help figure out what is acceptable, obviously "Dark Star Mugs" would be a stupid name. We just want to know if it is ok, or not, or maybe.
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  • #2
    Hi & welcome to LB

    Attached link is some guidance from Companies House.

    https://www.gov.uk/limited-company-f...e-company-name

    I've consulted the Oracle, & apparently it would be most propitious for you to register in a few days time.

    (May the 4th be with you?)

    CAVEAT LECTOR

    This is only my opinion - "Opinions are made to be changed --or how is truth to be got at?" (Byron)

    You and I do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
    Cohen, Herb


    There is danger when a man throws his tongue into high gear before he
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    Phelps, C. C.


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    • #3
      HI, thanks for the link. To clarify my rambling original post I was talking more of the domain name and trading name, rather than Ltd Co name - although I recognise that the advice given there would apply to those too. But that seems very simplistic (don't use the same company name as someone else or is confusingly similar).

      But in my case I'm thinking more along the lines of IP from movies - so move names, characters, phases etc. So I recognise I'd be on shaky ground if I called my website "Livelongandprosper.com" or "maytheforcebewithyou.com" to use your example.

      So it's just case of understanding what I can and can't do?

      In my example in the OP I was given a suggestion (which wasn't great, but the best of a bad bunch), but a quick google shows it had been used before. So does that prevent me from using it again, or only if I'm using it in an "abusive" way? ie, as long as I'm not trying to associate myself with the film, or trying to confuse people into thinking I'm connected to the film, or make money off the film or anything like that - am I ok to use the same or similar name for my business?

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi

        I can only go by my own experience.
        I was wanting to use a company name, but my preferred name was already in use.
        I changed it slightly (Just put [preferred name] (added a bit) & it was accepted no probs.
        So if anyone challenges, I'll just say that Co House approved it....what do I know, I'm not the expert, already!
        CAVEAT LECTOR

        This is only my opinion - "Opinions are made to be changed --or how is truth to be got at?" (Byron)

        You and I do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
        Cohen, Herb


        There is danger when a man throws his tongue into high gear before he
        gets his brain a-going.
        Phelps, C. C.


        "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"
        The last words of John Sedgwick

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by charitynjw View Post
          So if anyone challenges, I'll just say that Co House approved it....what do I know, I'm not the expert, already!
          ok, I'm not an expert either, but I know if someone sues you, that defence is going to get you nowhere!

          I went with my existing company name because I thought "it will probably be ok", but a few people have made me doubt that, so I'm hoping someone who's familiar with the law can explain how things work.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by scm123 View Post
            ok, I'm not an expert either, but I know if someone sues you, that defence is going to get you nowhere!

            I went with my existing company name because I thought "it will probably be ok", but a few people have made me doubt that, so I'm hoping someone who's familiar with the law can explain how things work.
            Care to expand on that?
            I'm not being antagonistic, just genuinely interested (& perhaps a little startled?)
            CAVEAT LECTOR

            This is only my opinion - "Opinions are made to be changed --or how is truth to be got at?" (Byron)

            You and I do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
            Cohen, Herb


            There is danger when a man throws his tongue into high gear before he
            gets his brain a-going.
            Phelps, C. C.


            "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"
            The last words of John Sedgwick

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by charitynjw View Post
              Care to expand on that?
              On which bit? You getting sued or people making me doubt that my existing name is ok?

              Comment


              • #8
                Err.....me getting sued! (Sorry about hijacking)
                CAVEAT LECTOR

                This is only my opinion - "Opinions are made to be changed --or how is truth to be got at?" (Byron)

                You and I do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
                Cohen, Herb


                There is danger when a man throws his tongue into high gear before he
                gets his brain a-going.
                Phelps, C. C.


                "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"
                The last words of John Sedgwick

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by charitynjw View Post
                  Err.....me getting sued! (Sorry about hijacking)
                  Well if you tried to register the name "Marvel Comics Ltd" and companies house approved it, it doesn't mean they ran it past a panel of lawyers who approved the name for worldwide usage in any circumstances, it just means that you haven't broken any of their naming rules.

                  So if Marvel Comics objected to your Ltd Co name, and decided to sue you, then just saying "oh well, companies house approved it so I though it would be ok, because I'm not an expert" isn't going to help you. "Ignorance of the law is no defence" and all that...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by scm123 View Post

                    Well if you tried to register the name "Marvel Comics Ltd" and companies house approved it, it doesn't mean they ran it past a panel of lawyers who approved the name for worldwide usage in any circumstances, it just means that you haven't broken any of their naming rules.

                    So if Marvel Comics objected to your Ltd Co name, and decided to sue you, then just saying "oh well, companies house approved it so I though it would be ok, because I'm not an expert" isn't going to help you. "Ignorance of the law is no defence" and all that...
                    Yep, totally see that.
                    But there are only so many words, names etc in the English language.
                    The main point is, are you trading using a name (or similar name) of an existing firm to your advantage? (ie piggybacking on an existing name for profit, etc.)

                    Another example
                    https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-mc...-idUKKCN1P92JA
                    CAVEAT LECTOR

                    This is only my opinion - "Opinions are made to be changed --or how is truth to be got at?" (Byron)

                    You and I do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
                    Cohen, Herb


                    There is danger when a man throws his tongue into high gear before he
                    gets his brain a-going.
                    Phelps, C. C.


                    "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"
                    The last words of John Sedgwick

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by charitynjw View Post
                      The main point is, are you trading using a name (or similar name) of an existing firm to your advantage?
                      No, but it's not other company names I'm worried about, it's other Intellectual Property - such as names, phrases, quotes, characters etc from movies/books/songs etc.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'd suggest you type Dark Star into google and see what the suggested searches are though as you're not the first to choose that name.

                        The film cost $60K to make, so I'd be surprised if Bryanston (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryans...buting_Company) who are the rights owner would try to pursue some sort of name infringement especially with others already using the name with quite some success.

                        Interestingly it was a John Carpenter movie, I'm a big fan of the Halloween films.
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                        • #13
                          Yes, here's a list of other "Dark Star" things:

                          Astronomy
                          Dark star (Newtonian mechanics), a star that has a gravitational pull strong enough to trap light under Newtonian gravity
                          Dark star (dark matter), a star heated by annihilation of dark matter particles within it
                          Dark-energy star, an object composed of dark energy that outwardly resembles a black hole
                          Film
                          The Dark Star (1919 film), a lost 1919 silent film
                          The Dark Star (1955 film), a 1955 West German drama film
                          Dark Star (film), a 1974 science fiction comedy film directed by John Carpenter
                          Dark Star, a 1978 film distributed by David Grant
                          Dark Star: H. R. Giger's World, a 2014 Swiss documentary
                          Comics
                          Darkstar (Marvel Comics), a Marvel Comics superhero
                          Darkstars, a DC Comics superhero team
                          Darkstar Comics, a fictional comic book company in the TV series Spaced
                          Dark Star, an issue of the comics series The Transformers
                          Other
                          Dark Star, a 1929 novel by Lorna Moon
                          Dark Star, a novelization of the 1974 film, by Alan Dean Foster
                          Dark Star: The Roy Orbison Story, a 1990 book by Ellis Amburn
                          Dark Star, a 1991 Night Soldiers novel by Alan Furst
                          Darkstar, a villain in the animation series Ben 10 (2005)
                          Darkstar, a 2011 novella by Christopher R. Howard
                          Performers
                          Dark Star (band), an English psychedelic rock band, 1998–2001
                          Darkstar (band), an English electronic duo, formed 2007
                          Dark Star Orchestra, a Grateful Dead tribute band
                          Darkstar, a progressive metal band co-founded by Dan Rock of Psychotic Waltz
                          Albums
                          Dark Star (soundtrack), by John Carpenter, 1980
                          Dark Star, by Deine Lakaien, 1991
                          Dark Star, by The Supernaturals, 1993
                          Dark Star: The Music of the Grateful Dead, by the David Murray Octet, 1996
                          The Dark Star, by Volsoc, 2004
                          Dark Star (album), by the Grateful Dead and featuring their song "Dark Star", 2012
                          Dark Star, by Jaymes Young, 2013
                          Songs
                          "Dark Star" (song), by the Grateful Dead
                          "Dark Star", by Beck from The Information
                          "Dark Star", by Cinema Bizarre from ToyZ
                          "Dark Star", by Crosby, Stills & Nash from CSN
                          "Dark Star", by Delerium from Faces, Forms & Illusions
                          "Dark Star", by Hypnogaja from Truth Decay
                          "Dark Star", by I Am Kloot from Natural History
                          "Dark Star", by Jackal & Hyde
                          "Dark Star", by Mike Oldfield from Tubular Bells II
                          "Dark Star", by Poliça from Give You the Ghost
                          "Dark Star", by Tarja Turunen from What Lies Beneath
                          "Dark Star", by Jaymes Young from his album of the same name
                          Video games
                          DarkStar One, a 2006 video game
                          Darkstar: The Interactive Movie, a 2010 video game
                          Dark Star (No More Heroes), a character in the video game No More Heroes
                          Dark Star, a malevolent artifact in the video game Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
                          Dark Star, a 3D space shoot 'em up for the ZX Spectrum written by Simon Brattel for Design
                          Design Software
                          Darkstar, special weapon in a Sci-Fi MMOFPS PlanetSide 2
                          Technology
                          Lockheed Martin RQ-3 DarkStar, an unmanned aerial vehicle
                          Project Darkstar, a framework for creating massively multiplayer online games
                          Tesla Roadster (2008), codenamed DarkStar, an electric sports car
                          Other uses
                          Dark Star Brewery, West Sussex, England
                          Dark Star (cave), a cave system in Uzbekistan
                          Dark Star (horse), an American Thoroughbred racehorse

                          But just typing things into google and guessing, or hoping for the best, or saying "well everyone else is doing it", isn't really a good way to do something that may have big implications (getting sued) if I guess wrong.

                          The point of coming to a legal forum was to legal advice, even if it's just a laymans explanation of what is generally ok and not ok.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You need to check it is not a trademark ... in this case, it is - https://trademarks.ipo.gov.uk/ipo-tm.../UK00001514147 , although for a Beer so it would be a different class but it depends what you are doing - if you registered it as a trademark it is likely that you may receive a challenge as current owners of the trademark would be notified - there are other trademarks using the words as well in different areas ( clothing, tobacco etc) so have a search through. Also using it as a name when it is a trademark of someone elses could result in action for 'passing off' ( some examples are about the place - this one the claimant failed as it was obviously not passing off, but would have cost them all a lot of time/money to deal with - https://www.rpc.co.uk/perspectives/i...ing-off-claim/ )

                            That one I have linked to did receive an opposition which was subsequently withdrawn but there are no further details.

                            Anyway just as an example - based on your made up name .... you can search here https://trademarks.ipo.gov.uk/ipo-tmtext?reset

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by scm123 View Post
                              No, but it's not other company names I'm worried about, it's other Intellectual Property - such as names, phrases, quotes, characters etc from movies/books/songs etc.
                              Imho I reckon the two situations are broadly similar.

                              It often happens with songwriters that similar tunes are written by different writers (or parts thereof.)
                              Again, there are only so many notes, chords etc.

                              (I'm with Eric Morecambe on this one....I play all the right notes.....

                              ....not necessarily in the right order!)
                              CAVEAT LECTOR

                              This is only my opinion - "Opinions are made to be changed --or how is truth to be got at?" (Byron)

                              You and I do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
                              Cohen, Herb


                              There is danger when a man throws his tongue into high gear before he
                              gets his brain a-going.
                              Phelps, C. C.


                              "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!"
                              The last words of John Sedgwick

                              Comment

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