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Netflix’s true crime docu-series Tiger King has its fair share of scandals. But within the murder and mayhem is an issue that gets at the heart of why names are so powerful: trademark infringement. A carefully chosen name can elevate your business to the peak of success, while a name that is chosen recklessly (or out of spite) can result in self-sabotage.

To summarize Tiger King for those of you who may not have succumbed to the titillating seven-hour documentary, a private zookeeper named Joe Exotic bred tigers to use for entertainment purposes. An animal rights proponent who owned an animal sanctuary called Big Cat Rescue, Carole Baskin, had a bone to pick with people who breed tigers, lions, and other exotic animals without accountability. Baskin tried to shut down Joe’s venture, and Joe struck back — in part by committing trademark infringement.

He named his venture Big Cat Rescue Entertainment, exposing himself to immense legal troubles. Ironically, his attempt to thwart Baskin and Big Cat Rescue only made it easier for her to take him down. Baskin sued him in 2011 for trademark violation of the logo and eventually won a settlement of $1 million in damages.

Standards for Trademark Infringement

In order to successfully sue for trademark infringement, the plaintiff must prove that they own the mark, that they have priority (essentially, that they were using it first), and that the defendant’s mark is likely to cause confusion.

Carole Baskin sued for trademark violation of the logo. Though she did not officially own a trademark on the phrase “Big Cat Rescue,” she was prepared to argue that she had common law protection before Joe Exotic accepted a consent judgment, agreeing to settle.

Common law protection covers trademarks that are used for commerce before they are federally registered. This is where priority comes into play; the party that was using it first and widely in a certain geographic area holds a common law trademark. Whether Baskin would have succeeded in claiming common law protection will never be known, as the settlement prevented the case from going to trial.

The Advantages of Preliminary Trademark Screening 

While other naming agencies hand off a list of name ideas and call it a day, NameStormers has developed an in-depth process of generating, vetting, and fine-tuning names. We go to great lengths to ensure that the name candidates we present to you are legally available and viable.

Our seven-step process includes preliminary trademark screening, in which we use the same tools that trademark lawyers use. We screen our best name ideas for federal and state trademarks as well as common law usage issues. We also check the domain and social media availability, and, if necessary, we provide the additional service of global trademark screening, consulting with linguists in relevant languages and cultures in order to ensure the name is set up for success in key markets.

Why Use NameStormers’ Business Naming Services?

NameStormers goes above and beyond typical naming agencies in our commitment to client satisfaction. Other agencies will charge you if you don’t like their initial list of names and want to see more. NameStormers, on the other hand, will go back to the drawing board as many times as it takes to find a name that works for your company without charging you a cent more. We’ll even perform another round of trademark searches on the new name ideas.

We have thirty years of experience in name development, proven efficient turnaround time, and a process that works. Our services are yours for a flat fee, and we won’t stop until you’re satisfied. If you’re ready to get started on a business name that’s relevant, catchy, and creative — and won’t get you in trouble with animal rights activists — contact us today.


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