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?
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