What’s Fast, Free and has a Funny Name?

First of all, full credit for the title of this blog belongs to Business Week magazine. Interestingly enough that was the title of the article in print, but online the same article is titled “Hadoop data software spreads beyond Silicon Valley”. Perhaps they wanted to jazz it up a bit as they went to print!

naming big software programs and SaaSNevertheless, I used to just jumble Hadoop in with Joomla and J-Scripts and other higher level computer language tools, many with a slight Indian flavor – in development and naming it seemed to me. Well I owe Doug Cutting both an apology and a pat on the back. Fancy becoming the leader in your category when you simply named your new clever database after a character in your kid’s book!

For those of you who don’t get branding yet, this should teach us all two things: (1) Good products often rise to the top despite their name and (2) products get more attention and stand out from the crowd when they have interesting or unusual names. Plus isn’t Hadoop a much more fun name than Cloudera or Hortonworks and MapR, especially when Doug pulls out his kid’s old yellow cloth elephant at conferences?

OK, but what is the legality of using a using known toy name for your software? Well in the USA there is only one trademark on the name and it is clearly owned by the Apache Software Foundation – where the master copy of the open source software resides. I had to look very far online to find references to the story in a book – so they can hardly claim super brand or other common law rights. But once before I once asked a public legal forum about the legality of using a character or place from a show like Star Wars or Star Trek. You won’t believe how many lawyers offered to take my case, not realizing I was just posing a general question while trying to assist a client – and the techies do sure like those Star Trek names.

So the motto of this story is: Have fun but proceed with caution and do note that Star Trek actually publishes a directory of all their characters, places, spaceships, etc. Some they brought over from the classics – many others they made up – and they have big lawyers protecting their full rights.

© Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Branding, Domain Names, Name Origins, Naming Education, Naming News, Technology Names, Trademarks

Voya – A Voyeur to take you on the Voyage of life?

voya_sign_windsor_angleAs a naming professional I know how hard it is to come up with new names. Especially short ones. So in that sense I applaud ING changing their name to Voya. Why it has to be so short and awkward I don’t know, but at least it implies something.
As a naming critic, writing on this site and others, I have longed campaigned for ING to change their name – for two big reasons: (1) It was just a meaningless and awkward three initial name and (2) The company’s brand took some major hits during the fairly recent big financial market collapse.

But what does Voya stand for? Or what is it trying to imply? Isn’t it a great name for a travel company? Isn’t it awfully close to Voyeur? Is that the kind of person you want looking after your retirement financial investments?

Oh Boya! I hope your money is safe with Voya!

© Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Name Changes, Name Origins, Naming News, Trademarks

Alibaba steals Wall St with brilliant, courageous name

Origins of Alibaba nameIn all the hoopla surrounding Alibaba Group’s IPO, am I the only one stopping to think about what a strange, and brilliant, name choice Alibaba was for the first company, and now the group? No Jack Ma did not pick the name because it was some great Chinese word or symbolism, nor because he wanted to be the leader of a band of 40 thieves. He simply picked it, while on business in San Francisco, because “everyone knows the name, regardless of if they are English, German, Chinese or Indian.”

At the time he was not that confident in his own English, so he asked the waitress in the restaurant if she knew the name Alibaba. Then he asked people in the street and in business. One nice thing about San Francisco is you get a great cross section of the world in the city and up and down Silicon Valley, including a very large Chinese and other Asian population.

Did anyone jump up and down and say that is an Arabic story set in Persia (now Iran) and Baghdad? In the movie Alibaba even waves the Saudi Arabian flag – in other words the wrong flag. What is the connection to China? Well, it is simply a Chinese company that started out to enable small Chinese vendors to trade with the world. A company that took a known name that is appropriate -saving a lot of branding dollars in the process. We all know now that if we want to buy goods from China (and beyond), go to Alibaba.com first. No need to have a cousin who has a friend who once went to Shanghai, or wherever.

AlibabaGroupIn a trademark note, Alibaba Group does not have exclusive rights to the name Alibaba, in large aprt because lots of other people registered it before they came along. But boy are they being aggressive to protect it now. You should see how long some of their descriptive claims are for the name. For example, just for education products and services their application has about 40 full lines of small print. Wow. I never knew there was that many ways/products in education.

All these trademarks are filed on behalf of the Alibaba Group, a Cayman Islands shell company – and the real company you invested in if you had a piece of the IPO action. Think about it, the Cayman Isles are in the Caribbean which has traditionally been another pirate trading stronghold!

A Chinese company with an Arabic/English name and not red corporate colors! I love it. Jack Ma is a great pioneer by not following the party song sheet. Ask yourself why your eCommerce name has to be so descriptive.

PS Unfortunately there are very few names still left that are well known and legally available to kick start your branding. Amazon is one other, but even they have to promote Amazon.com more and more because of push back from other Amazon trademark holders.

© Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Domain Names, Name Origins, Naming Education, Naming News, Strange Names, Technology Names, Trademarks

Naming Disaster on Inc 500 List

Finding your company on the Inc 500 list of fastest growing small businesses must be exciting. Well at least until you notice that there is another company, in the same category, with the same name as you, in a neighboring state no less!


I bet Fluent is happy to be on this list. But which Fluent? The one from New York or the one from Boston.  And yes this is an exact scan of page 162 so they are both in the Advertising/Marketing category – only six steps apart in the rankings too.

Now what happens when they try to grow like this even more? And expand nationwide? And even run into the other Fluents out there? Not to worry, their fans and customers are loyal and will follow them on Facebook!  Sure, I gave up counting how many home pages Facebook has of companies named Fluent. Admittedly a lot of these were language or translation companies, and a few tech ones, but many others were smaller sales and marketing outfits.

So who owns the trademark on Fluent in International Class 35 – Advertising, Business Mgmt, etc.? Well right now no one, though there have been other uses and Fluent Inc New York has applied for the trademark – but the application has been Suspended. Not sure what that means or why, but it has been well over a year now, so not looking good going forward. May even be judged to be generic so no one can register it.

Bottom line is something we see so often in the naming business. A great common word is an ideal fit, but it is 2014 ladies and gentleman, and most such words are taken or not suitable for branding for a company growing nationwide. Your name is not your brand, but it is the shorthand handle for your brand promise. And especially in the online world, state boundaries are crossed in a heartbeat. So to protect and grow your name you need to clearly own the registered trademark. Then you can protect and promote it and fight off all interlopers before it becomes a big expensive exercise to change.

PS Which Fluent will blink first?

© Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

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Posted in Branding, Domain Names, Naming Education, Naming News, Trademarks

Set of medical top level domains being released right now

biotech naming, scientific naming, naming medical products, naming healthcare productsI thought the sequencing of the release of new top level gTLD’s, as the domain extensions are properly called, was more random than I am seeing – but that might just be a coincidence. Regardless, if you are in the medical, healthcare, research or biotech fields this is the month to seriously consider picking up one of these domains to supplement your key corporate offerings. Here is the release sequence thanks to United Domains:

Extension /Start of Live Reg /Price Per Year
08/09/2014 $59
08/13/2014 $29
08/13/2014 $49
08/13/2014 $49
08/13/2014 $49
08/15/2014 $19
08/20/2014 $79
08/20/2014 $39
08/20/2014 $49
08/21/2014 $59
08/22/2014 $199
08/27/2014 $29
08/27/2014 $49

Ok I know .ski is usually not directly connected to medical – unless you are up in a ski resort area. But I couldn’t resist because of the accidental sequencing .And as for .hamburg? I am assuming there will be restrictions on registration, like proving you have an address in Hamburg, Germany. So don’t expect to see McDonalds.hamburg any time soon. If it is applicable to the hamburger industry, well then it may belong in this healthcare batch.

PS And my usual exhortation:  Don’t forget to check trademarks worldwide before you run out and claim domains!

© Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

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Posted in Biotech Naming, Branding, Food Names, Name Changes, Naming News, Technology Names, Trademarks

Sony gaming site goes down from lack of a simple renewal

Sony gaming logo and namingOver at Domain Name Wire Andrew Alleman reports the true facts behind why Sony’s Online Gaming site recently went down for over 48 hours – someone forgot to renew a key domain name registration! This is exactly why I  implore my clients when they register a new domain name to use an email address that is checked regularly, both now and in the future when the new domain is is live.

Many respond with, “Not to worry we signed up for five years.” OK. But who will be around in five years, especially if you have used a generic management email like Sony did? Secondly, why wasn’t such a key domain set to Auto Renew?

Let us all use this as a lesson learned and schedule an annual domain audit. There are good reasons to hold some domains temporarily – but is this the year we let them go? There are others that are critical to our business operations and they should be treated very differently and more than one person in your company should be keeping an eye on those. Consider even using an outside monitoring service if you are a big international conglomerate.

Finally, most registry services process thousands of domains for a very small  annual fee per name. The only way they can do this is through automating it from start to finish. But if you are holding a number of domains, like we are at any given time, it is comforting to know they are with a very service oriented outfit like GoDaddy.com. Can you believe one of their humans actually calls me up so every often to remind me about renewals and other management issues.


© Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

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Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Domain Names, Name Origins, Naming Education, Naming News, Naming Resources, Public Site Naming

Where have all the vowels gone?

I recently saw on an ex-pats column that immigrants felt they had become American when they were used to spelling favour as favor and colour as color. Those unnecessary silent U’s are gone when you settle stateside – but it still feels weird and different for a long time.

Special spelling for names from product branding
But how are such people, as well as properly educated English speakers worldwide, getting the hang of all these new program and software names: Flickr, Tumblr, Waze, Wickr, Loopt and many others that have lost a vowel along the way? Interestingly enough, these are still easy to read and understand – at least for us native English speakers. Our poor foreign colleagues may have just figured out why enuff is spelled enough so this might actually not be that hard.

Most of these shortened names also work because they are used primarily in an online context. So the salesman doesn’t have to explain “its Flickr without the e” on each phone call. Rather the users just see and except it. The fact that flickr and flicker are identical from a trademark point of view, seems to be irrelevant. The USPTO and other trademark bodies may even be allowing these spelling changes more frequently now and not saying they are generics (when spelled right). I will try to confirm this later.

I had long ago predicted (mostly incorrectly it turns out) that we would turn to more foreign words for naming as we ran out of English words. We even did a blog on the success of Gyazo which is a very Japanese word. But I forgot that American are so weak in foreign languages. Instead they prefer interesting new spellings like in these company and product names: Carvana, Eventbriter, Trillist, Zappos, Vivint, BonzoMe, Bubblews, Fyreplug, etc.

PS Some have gone the other way. For example:  Digg is a great name. And all they did is add a g that does not get pronounced but adds a lot of strength and emphasis to the written name.

© Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

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Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Domain Names, Name Origins, Naming Education, Naming News, Strange Names, Technology Names, Trademarks

Longines – The French name for a Swiss Company

Great european brand namesNow that we live in a consumer goods fast-pace change environment, it is nice to come across an article about some products and brands that have stood the test of time. Longines is one such brand. And it is great fun to look up their trademark and really see it has been around since 1907 as a US registered trademark, as below:

Goods and Services IC 014. US 027. G & S: WATCHES, PARTS OF WATCHES, AND WATCHCASES. FIRST USE: 18690000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 18690000
Serial Number 71027584
Filing Date May 23, 1907
Current Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition July 16, 1907
Registration Number 0065109
Registration Date September 10, 1907

Attorney of Record JESS M. COLLEN
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Affidavit Text SECTION 8(10-YR) 20070709.
Renewal 1ST RENEWAL 20070709
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

This mark is so old, it predates the whole Swiss watch reputation for quality. In fact, they specifically gave it a French name to try to imply good French quality back in those days. Of course we all know French is one of the three official languages of Switzerland, but still, real Swiss sounding names are a lot more Germanic, like the watch company Breitling that didn’t become a US Fed TM until 1947.

(C) Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Domain Names, Name Origins, Technology Names, Trademarks

Enjoying the new Castrol Edge

I have often told people working for a company, that if they didn’t like the name or logo, there were only 3 choices available to them:

  1. Organize a program to evaluate and change it
  2. Live up to it
  3. Quit

Usually there are no other options, though a variation on (1) above is to refresh the logo without changing the name per se. So when I was planning on writing this note about how tired and old the Castrol Oil nameNaming of sports clubs, industrial product branding, looked in their sponsorship of the World Cup in Brazil. So today, in between watching some games, I try to do a screen capture of the old logo in use on the sideline billboards, only to find a brand new refreshed, but still distinctly recognizable, new Castrol logo, complete with icon in use at the latest stadiums as they promote their Castrol Edge brand to the world.

Was I mistaken or did some of the earlier sites not get the update? Or were they using old painted signs and not the new electronic billboards? Regardless, now all is well and we realize what a great international brand Castrol is when they can justify such sponsorship.

Quite a change from their painting of Nascar cards in red and green isn’t it?

(C) Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Branding, Consumer Goods, Industrial Products Naming, Name Changes, Naming News, Sports Naming

New .Partners domain should be fun

Well those new gTLD domains are starting to rollout and I can’t wait to see how creative people are use them. While being promoted for business entities that are actual partnerships, as are common in the legal, accounting, medical, consulting, real estate and investing fields, there are no pre-qualification requirements on the .partners domain.
New .partners domain name, creative naming guru help
Will .partners be more popular than .firm? So what will human partners do with it? What will school friend buddies do with it? What about temporary teams or marketing partners do with it?

If you hear of any interesting ones, please let us know.

(C) Copyright 2014 Brighter Naming ®

Posted in Branding, Domain Names, Naming Education, Naming News, Naming Resources, Trademarks, Uncategorized

Naming Articles

New brand insider articles from an experienced marketing team. Learn all the basics of naming, branding and trademark registration from these free reports:

Jul 2014: What roles do copyrights and patents play in protecting names?

Jan 2014: Predictions for 2014 and Free Offers.

Dec 2013: Regional, National & International Name Styles.

Oct 2013: Planning for All the New Domain Names.

Jul 2012: The right names go down in history.

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