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Author Topic: how do I find out if a company name is original  (Read 2825 times)
JohnG
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Posts: 185


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« on: June 23, 2004, 05:40:47 PM »

Epoch Games is already used by a company according to Lycos, and the domain name is already taken according to register.com.  I've checked Lycos and Register.com and in both cases I can't find an instance of Head Trip Games.  I've registered the domain but to be safe I was wondering if anyone has heard of a company using that name or if there's a sure fire way to make sure it's not taken.

My search so far indicates that it is not in use by anyone.
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John Grigas
Head Trip Games
headtripgames@hotmail.com
www.headtripgames.com

Current Projects: Ember, Chronicles of the Enferi Wars
MarktheAnimator
Member

Posts: 77


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« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2004, 08:13:52 PM »

Have you checked for www.epochgames.net ??

You don't have to use the .com extension.

My game company is Star Games and my game is Fantasy Imperium.... Since stargames.com was taken, I just used the name of my game instead and now have fantasyimperium.com  

So after you pick a name for your game, search for that domain name.

Also, I believe you can do a copyright search or trademark search for a name to see if it's taken.
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JohnG
Member

Posts: 185


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« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2004, 08:28:57 PM »

Thanks, I can't find Head Trip Games anywhere so I'm going with that.
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John Grigas
Head Trip Games
headtripgames@hotmail.com
www.headtripgames.com

Current Projects: Ember, Chronicles of the Enferi Wars
jdagna
Member

Posts: 563


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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2004, 01:00:28 AM »

I think the best place to check on business names is Dun & Bradstreet (http://www.dnb.com).  Just looking for names should be free.

In any event, you're making the right move by considering available .com addresses before choosing a name.
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Justin Dagna
President, Technicraft Design.  Creator, Pax Draconis
http://www.paxdraconis.com
Matt Machell
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Posts: 477


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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2004, 02:37:17 AM »

In the UK there's a database of Business names run by the government department Companies House (http://ws6info.companieshouse.gov.uk/info/), that anybody can view and is web enabled in UK time.

I'd be shocked if the US didn't have a similar system. But like many things it's a case of knowing about and finding them.

-Matt
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Keith Senkowski
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Posts: 725

On A Downward Spiral...


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« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2004, 06:59:53 AM »

Another thing you can do is to check the http://www.uspto.gov/">US Trademark and Patent Office.  They have a search function and you can see if someone legally registered it.

Keith
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Conspiracy of Shadows: Revised Edition
Everything about the game, from the mechanics, to the artwork, to the layout just screams creepy, creepy, creepy at me. I love it.
~ Paul Tevis, Have Games, Will Travel
GregS
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Posts: 78


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« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2004, 03:54:35 PM »

Hello all, new to the list!

Many states operate with registered trade names, which is a good place to start to search for a name.  The following is pasted from the Washington State web page:
--------------
Can I find out if a trade name I want to use has already been registered?

Yes, you can request a search of our database to see if a name is currently registered. If we do not find a filing, it does not guarantee that the name is not being used, only that it has not been registered. We can also provide information regarding corporations, persons conducting business under a trade name, or verification of business existence.

To request a search, call 1-900-463-6000. The charge is $4.95 for the first minute, and $.50 for each additional minute. You will be limited to three searches per phone call. Or, send up to three name searches and $4.00 to the address shown at the right side of this page. Be sure to give your return address.

The Washington State Department of Revenue offers a "State Business Records" database search that includes some trade names. This database is intended for use by the general public as a consumer protection program. This free public service is provided for informational purposes only.
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Game Monkey Press
http://www.gmpress.com

"When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy." -Dave Barry
xiombarg
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Posts: 1183


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« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2004, 07:45:43 AM »

For a quickie check, why not start with Google?
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Lxndr
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 1113

Master of the Inkstained Robes


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« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2004, 09:13:41 AM »

My process for finding out Twisted Confessions was pretty simple:

1.  Google
2.  Use my State's FREE tradename search tool (you have to pay in Washington?  bummer)
3.  Register with my State's tradename registration office.  I pay money, they in theory do a more complete search, and at the end I get this nifty little certificate that says "this name is now yours."  (if you search here: http://www.sos.state.az.us/scripts/TNT_Search_engine.dll you'll see it and get a link to my contact information)

For all I know, there's another "Twisted Confessions" in Maine or something, but I don't really think so.
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
Maker of many fine story-games!
Moderator of Indie Netgaming
Erick Wujcik
Member

Posts: 56


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« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2004, 02:54:50 PM »

Quote from: Bob Goat
Another thing you can do is to check the http://www.uspto.gov/">US Trademark and Patent Office.  They have a search function and you can see if someone legally registered it.

Keith


I second this!

After all, the thing you have most to fear is stepping on someone else's trademark. That's because (1) trademark protection is the strongest of all IPs (Intellectual Properties), and (2) the penalties for infringing on trademark can be severe.

As far as finding out 'if someone has ever used the name?' Frankly, the odds of both (1) coming up with something original, and (2) even finding every instance of a business name, are pretty remote.

For example, here in Michigan you need a DBA ('Doing Business As') license to open a business or a business bank account. The problem is that each county has their own DBA registrar (there are, based on a quick count, 82 counties in Michigan). Multiply counties by states...

No, the main thing is to make sure about the trademark issue.

Erick
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Erick Wujcik
Phage Press
P.O. Box 310519
Detroit  MI  48231-0519 USA
http://www.phagepress.com
JohnG
Member

Posts: 185


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« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2004, 12:34:04 AM »

I've searched high and low online and at the trademark search engine they have at that site.  I see no Head Trip Games, so I'm using that.

Since I don't see it anywhere, I'm using it, and if I do somehow step on someone's toes I'll just hope they accept it as an honest mistake.  Since I've got a 3 word company name though, my chances of avoiding to stepping are fairly good lol.

Thanks everybody.
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John Grigas
Head Trip Games
headtripgames@hotmail.com
www.headtripgames.com

Current Projects: Ember, Chronicles of the Enferi Wars
Erick Wujcik
Member

Posts: 56


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« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2004, 05:51:44 AM »

Quote from: StrongBadMun
I've searched high and low online and at the trademark search engine they have at that site.  I see no Head Trip Games, so I'm using that.


Okay, whoa up there, fella...

Based on my research of "Head Trip," you're walking into a heavy hazard zone, and it's not somewhere I'd recommend going without the services of a good lawyer.

Bear with me, as I recount my own investigation of 'Head Trip Games' on the U.S. Government Patent and Trademark Office.

First off, I did a search for "Head Trip" (searching for "Head Trip Games" is too limiting). I came up with a bunch of hits, most of which were listed as "DEAD."

When it says "DEAD" it means that a trademark existed, but lapsed, because the registrant didn't bother to send in the renewal fee (a 'Registered' Trademark lasts for 10 years, after which you have to file more paper and pay more money). However, just because a Trademark is DEAD doesn't mean it isn't still in use, and it doesn't mean the owner of the DEAD mark is legally helpless. Alway, always, always check the DEAD marks, just in case.

In the case of "Head Trip," I didn't see anything dangerous in the DEAD catagory. A typical listing: "(CANCELLED) IC 009. US 021 026. G & S: hands-free video camera system comprising a video camera attached to a headpiece with the remaining video camera components being attached elsewhere such as on a waistpack. FIRST USE: 19930701. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19930701." Since this (1) has nothing to do with your usage, and (2) doesn't seem like a huge commercial success, just make a note of it, and move on.

Now to search for "LIVE" registrants, among those who are still active (paid up).

Again, you were in pretty good shape. Among the living: Advanced Carbon Composites, Inc. has a LIVE TM for Protective helmets; Juarez, Mark R. has a LIVE TM for a head massage device; and "philosophy, inc." has a LIVE TM for hair care products, namely shampoos, conditioners, gels, mousses, and hairspray. It seems unlikely that any of these folks are going to feel threatened by your use of "Head Trip Games."

Still, to play it safe, I'd do a bit more research. On the web, or at a good library, see if you can find out what each of these LIVE logos look like, and make absolutely sure that you are not using the same image, or even the same font.

Being a thorough kind of guy (as one should be, in these matters), I figured I might as well look up 'Headtrip' as one word.

Just two listings. One DEAD, and irrelevant, and then, under LIVE...

Uh oh.

"Valenta, John" has a LIVE trademark, really recent (September 23, 2003), as a "SERVICE MARK" for a "Entertainment namely, live performances by a musical band."

Hmm. Is that some obscure bar band, or have they got a following? Is the band alive or dead?

A quick google search reveals over 7,000 hits for 'Headtrip,' and it looks like a good lot of them are either associated with the band, or titles of albums including the word 'headtrip.'

Why is this trouble? After all, you want to make games, and they're a band, right? No conflict, right?

Well, look at it this way, would it be okay to call your company "Coca Cola Games?"

Theoretically, it should be legal, since Coca Cola is clearly not in the business of making games. The problem is, Coca Cola spends vast sums on a legal force that is just itching to justify their fat paychecks. And from their point of view, anyone else attempting to use 'Coca Cola' is a threat (it's the legal equivalent of walking up to boxer Mike Tyson and calling his manhood into question).

Similar rules apply if you try to use a name like "Tom Cruise Games" whether or not, Tom Cruise has trademarked his name. Whenever you are  seen to profit from someone else's name, assuming you haven't paid for the privilege, you are putting yourself in jeopardy.

Quote from: StrongBadMun
Since I don't see it anywhere, I'm using it, and if I do somehow step on someone's toes I'll just hope they accept it as an honest mistake...


Consider that Palladium Books was forced by Todd McFarland (a guy who puts a very high pricetag on 'honest mistakes') to change their "Nightspawn" game to "Nightbane..."

Also, if you do have serious ambitions, and think your company might be significant someday, or produce something worth licensing, then there are two problems.

Problem #1: Since there are other users of 'headtrip,' you are risking the possibility of threats and litigation. The bigger you get, the higher the threat level.

Problem #2: You also need to consider protecting your future trademarks. Since yours is clearly not unique to start with (7,000 hits on google for "headtrip," 10,000 hits for "head trip" and 8 hits for "head trip games," pretty much eliminates 'unique'), you may face some pretty serious problems in the future. It's always better, if at all possible, to come up with trademarks that are clear, defensible and unique...

Erick

p.s.: Here's the final nail in your coffin, which came up during my google search:

Head Trip: A Free Mini-Adventure Companion to the Living Force Campaign Guide, for the Star Wars RPG, by Jeff Grubb, published by Hasbro (eek! run away, run away...).
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Erick Wujcik
Phage Press
P.O. Box 310519
Detroit  MI  48231-0519 USA
http://www.phagepress.com
JohnG
Member

Posts: 185


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« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2004, 06:43:30 PM »

ahh for crissakes I give up.
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John Grigas
Head Trip Games
headtripgames@hotmail.com
www.headtripgames.com

Current Projects: Ember, Chronicles of the Enferi Wars
JohnG
Member

Posts: 185


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« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2004, 06:53:06 PM »

what are the rules regarding holding a claim to a trademark if you don't file it?  Cause I cannot afford the $600 bucks to register, even if it is for 10 years.
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John Grigas
Head Trip Games
headtripgames@hotmail.com
www.headtripgames.com

Current Projects: Ember, Chronicles of the Enferi Wars
jdagna
Member

Posts: 563


WWW
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2004, 10:22:07 PM »

Quote from: StrongBadMun
what are the rules regarding holding a claim to a trademark if you don't file it?  Cause I cannot afford the $600 bucks to register, even if it is for 10 years.


I'm not a lawyer, but basically the policy is that the first person to use a "mark" (the name) for commerce (i.e. actually selling a product) has the trademark, whether or not they officially register it.  Registration is a way to prove that you used it first, (and extends your rights to damages) but doesn't guarantee anything. naturally, there are some finer points (many of which Eric pointed out).
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Justin Dagna
President, Technicraft Design.  Creator, Pax Draconis
http://www.paxdraconis.com
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