Certainly, part of the fun of opening your self storage business is coming up with a name for your facility and the logo that will adorn the building, signs, uniforms and cards, as well as translate to the domain name, website and e-mail for your business. But before you finalize the name and the logo and spend the advertising money to go along with it, every operator should check not only the availability of the domain name that they intend to use, but also whether the name or logo have already been trademarked.
When it comes to the domain name, even if the name of your business is available, there is still an issue of potential customer confusion if the domain name you are planning on using is similar to others (especially since the word “storage” is found in most of them).
If the domain name you choose conflicts with business names of other companies, especially if those business names are trademark protected, you may be forced to give it up.
Due to the abundance of disputes over domain name usage, a process for dispute resolution was even created by the Internet Corporation for Assigned names and Numbers (known as “ICANN”). The process is called the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy and is typically managed through arbitration.
Keep in mind as well that, unless you protect the domain name you choose, third parties could seek to use the same domain name by registering it through other domain services (like .biz, .net, .storage, etc.), which may weaken the strength of your website traffic.
To register a tradename (business name or slogan) or a trademark (logo), you must file an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Before you begin the application process, you can research the tradename or trademark to see if its already taken by checking the Trademark Electronic Search System Database, available on-line. Although uncommon, existing trademark holders can assert an objection to an application if they believe the name or mark applied for is too similar to their own name or mark. It is important to note that person’s names, geographic locations and common words are themselves ineligible for trademark protection. If there is a dispute over the use of a tradename, mark or logo, it is common practice to initiate an infringement dispute by first sending a cease and desist letter. Unlike domain name disputes, jurisdiction for trademark infringement actions is in the courts.
Unfortunately, disputes arising from claims of customer confusion over business names, domain names and logos are frequent, mostly between businesses in the same industry or market.
Since the internet does not separate by locality, state or region, be prepared to go to battle if your self storage name, logo or domain name happens to be similar to one that may be on the same street or even across the country.
It is important to do your research before you begin using any names or logos that are created for your use.
Otherwise there is a risk that your money and time spent could be lost if the name or mark is already being used or is similar enough to a prior name or mark being used by a competitor.