Bustos Law Firm

How Do You Tell a Member of Led Zeppelin He’s Wrong?

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones thinks there aren’t any good band names left. In fact, he recently complained to the Wall Street Journal about how difficult it was to find a good name for his new band.

“Every other name is taken,” Jones said. “Think of a great band name and Google it, and you’ll find a French-Canadian jam band with a MySpace page.”

He’s wrong!

In my experience, truly inspired musicians have no problem whatsoever coming up with a great band name. And, while John Paul Jones may have been wrong about the shortage of great band names, he was right to put more than a cursory effort into coming up with a great name for his new band.

Why?

Because a killer band name helps to set expectations for your band, establishing your brand identity. It’s very often the very first thing the audience hears about you – before they’ve even heard your music. Therefore, it must be well-conceived, clever, and creative.

LARGER THAN LIFE is what you’re shooting for…

So How Do You Go About Choosing a Killer Band Name?

A good band name is unique and memorable. Internet searches should point directly to your band. And for that reason alone, these days, a generic word is typically a bad band name, because internet searches are going to lead fans to everything but your band.

And, while a killer band name won’t help if your music isn’t any good, it does potentially give you an opportunity to capture the attention of a future fan base – IF you play your cards right, IF you know how to leverage it, and IF you can actually back it up musically and artistically.

THINK LARGER THAN LIFE. Ideally, your band name should be dripping with je ne sais quoi. Band names like The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and Sonic Dust™ come to mind.

I Came Up With a Killer Band Name, Now What?

From a legal standpoint, never underestimate the importance of obtaining a registration for your band’s name and logo with the United States Patent & Trademark Office. Trademark disputes usually hinge on which band first used a name commercially, and where—and the proof can be as simple as a band’s Facebook page.

Here are some clear cut steps you can take to help your band avoid trademark disputes:

1.  Trademark Your Band’s Name and Logo — If eligible, register your band’s name and logo with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This is evidence that you own the trademark that supports your band’s name and logo throughout the United States. Registration with the USPTO can also be used as a legal basis for obtaining international rights to your band’s name and logo.

2.  Register Internet Domain Names — Register your band’s name with the USPTO at the same time you capture desired internet domain names. This will help you avoid having to deal with unscrupulous domain grabbers who will demand large fees to sell you an internet domain that contains your band’s name.

3.  Watch Your Back — Once you have decided on a band name, it’s important to monitor the industry to make sure no one else tries to use your band’s name or logo. If you do find such an interloper, then you need to immediately send them a cease and desist letter, takedown notice, or similar letter challenging the unauthorized use of your band’s intellectual property. Failure to take these proactive measures can inadvertently dilute or cause abandonment of your trademark rights.

 4.  Lawyer Up —When all else fails, there are always legal remedies to protect your intellectual property.  In the event you believe your intellectual property rights have been violated, you may want to initiate a proceeding with the Trademark Trial Appeals Board (TTAB).

You have this option when: 1). Opposing a pending trademark application, and, 2). When you initiate a cancellation proceeding, which you should do in the event someone registers a confusingly similar trademark with the USPTO.

As a last resort, a federal lawsuit for trademark infringement is always an option, if you have a legitimate cause of action…but this can quickly get expensive.

Of course, if you can afford it, give serious consideration to hiring a qualified intellectual property attorney to file your trademark. Trademark applications may appear to be simple, but if you fill out your application incorrectly, you forfeit certain legal strategies that may be helpful in the event your trademark becomes the subject of litigation.

Still Can’t Think of a Great Band Name?

The aforementioned notwithstanding, I think musicians agonize over band names more than audiences ever do.

The audience just needs a brand identity to recognize you by. Remember, the main reason for creating a brand identity is to establish a consistent, uniform identity so that fans can remain loyal to your band, and feel part of something bigger then themselves…something larger than life.

So, if you can’t think of a killer band name, a bad band name won’t necessarily sink you. A lot of people thought, “The Beatles,” was a stupid band name. And, when you stop and think about it, it kind of is. But it didn’t seem to hurt them a bit, did it?

After all, whether a band name is considered “good,” or not, is largely determined by how successful your band ultimately is.

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