Trademark Your Band Name… NOW!

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How many times a year do you hear someone say “All the good band names are taken?”

I suppose that is why groups over the past 20 years have had to come up with names like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, and …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead.

But if you want to name your band something a little more user-friendly, you may run the risk of sharing that band name with another group somewhere out there in the wide world. And despite what you were told by your parents when you were little, this is one case in which you do NOT want to share! Instead, you want to get that puppy trademarked as fast as possible.

Digital Music News recently posted an excerpt from The Future of the Music Business (3rd Edition) by Steve Gordon which is due out later this Spring. In it, Steve discusses why, when, and how you should trademark your band name and logo. Check it out HERE for all the legal details.

-Chris R. at CD Baby

P.S. I believe “You Want to Get That Puppy Trademarked” is still available as a band name. You’re welcome to it!

P.P.S. Need some silly band-name brainstorming ideas? Check out the Band Name Maker.

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  • after all of these strange names, for some reason people don't like classic band names like Echo & the Bunnymen. I can't believe people still say "that's a funny name" after such strange names abound.

    Brian Ritchie of Violent Femmes wisely trademarked the name VIOLENT FEMMES in 2006 or so.

  • One of the first steps for me with any new band options is to do a quick google search to see not only if another band has the name, but also that another business does not have it either.

    For instance if you wanted to call your band: "Vibrators" you would have a lot of competition to get to the top spot and your fans would not be able to find you easily.

    It's best to choose a name that have very little competition and then you can own it in google and all the other search engines for free.

    – Chris

  • Linda

    I did some research on this a few years ago, but it was terribly expensive to do.

    But I also found out if someone else has established themselves in just an area using the same name it still does not mean you can stop them from using the name even if you do own the trademark.

  • Tom

    It is a gr8 idea to do & I trademarked my band name a few yrs back. Took me a while but finally did it. I also do searches when looking naming the titlesof my cds and songs just to see what has been done already etc. Doesn't hurt

  • This is so true. I trade marked Grupo Bakkan in 2002 and due to a bad record deal the band stopped performing. Since then, we have found 6 bands using the name "Bakkan" but because we own it…they had to change their name. It is worth the investment.

  • Jane

    I totally disagree with this suggestion. What a waste of money. How many bands actually make it in the world? Very few. There are much more important things to spend your money on — like making sure you're writing great songs that are recorded on a very professional level . . . and then marketing the heck out of them.

    I just heard a very successful inventor on the radio the other day. His top advice: DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY ON TRADEMARKS! Wait until you're really selling and have the extra money to do it.

    Who are these elitists giving out irrational advice?

  • urban djin

    Good advice on choosing a name, Chris. But you also need to get it out there aggressively on the internet to protect it as soon as possible. I have been using a great band name for about twelve years now for low key gigs. Before using it and every couple years thereafter I have done a search. About five years ago a couple very similar band names popped up, all from the West coast. Then last year a band using the exact same name turned up, also on the West coast. I'm in the Midwest. I imagine they'll all duke it out and the winner's lawyers will eventually send me a cease and desist letter.

    The reason I mention this is that because this name is for a casual side project of mine it has a very small internet presence connected to me, none at all until fairly recently. Even if those other bands had done a thorough search they wouldn't have found out that I'd been using it for a while already. Each of them probably thought they were the first to think of it, even after some searching.

  • Just a comment on something that Linda said. I looked into it, also, a few months ago on the web site for patents and trademarks. It is expensive and the processing of your applicaton takes many, many months. That office has to have their legal dept. go over it with a fine tooth comb and then after all that, if for some reason, your application is denied, your money is gone. A much simpler thing, I think, would be to register your band name in your county as a 'doing business as' entity. For about $50.00, depending on where you live, you can register your band name as your business. And as Linda pointed out, once you're established in some way, you can't be made to change your name. To the best of my knowledge, this is true, but I'm certainly not a legal scholar. I'd be interested in knowing for sure.

  • Artists should also be aware that they need to be careful about the selection of their name. If it can be perceived as disparaging or controversial, it could create serious issues and end up being a very long, expensive process. For example, my band, The Slants, is experiencing this right now:


  • LOL…the guy who said "don't waste your money " is a idiot…..if you are a professional band…not a bunch of want to be's….DO IT….it has actually made me a lot of marketing clought, and $….but that is another story…..this ia a REAL soft spot in my history….and I did good by DOING IT!….

  • oops …..GIRL….Jane

  • I'm hearing various things about how much it costs. Does anyone know if it's better to do it yourself on the trademark site, or to hire a company to do it for you… for supposedly around $150-$200? It's not really that cheap is it?

  • Buck

    If you are starting a business do you want others to use your business name? I want to start a pizza shop, maybe I'll call it Pizza Hut. Lets see what happens. As a band, if you are truthfull in your wanting of any kind of success you should trademark the name. Yes it is enforceable and yes you will win if you pursue it. Myspace, Facebook, Youtube and all of the other music sites state in their fine print that they will remove your site if you are infringing on others intellectual property rights. That includes Registered Copyrights and Trademarks.

    Maybe you go and try to sell your bands music on I tunes and you find out that after 5 years of having a particular band name that a 1 year old band is selling cds already under that name.

    The internet has changed it all. If you google your band name and you don't find it because 5 other bands are using the name, how are you going to effectively market your band over the net?

    This is the business end of music. Your name is your identity, your trademark. This is what seperates the kids from the grown ups.

    I registered mine myself and I'm not a lawyer. I did a search of the name myself and read and re-read how to do it so I new how the laws that govern this stuff works. As far as costs? All businesses have start up costs and it's far cheaper to do this then to spend a few days at the recording studio.

    Trademark your bands name before I do and force you to change it………LOL!

  • Jc

    I did it, and then about a yeat later I went to Myspace to get a band who was using the same name removed from their site. Myspace did nothing. Sent back a rely saying they couldn't get involved, essentially. I guess maybe a letter from my lawyer might get results, but just proving that you own the trademark and asking them to take action was a complete waste of time. So what now? I guess I sue Myspace. They have lots deeper pockets than the kids who made a band and are using my name anyway.

    the reason we did the trademark was that we were ordering thousands of dollars worth of CD's and we didn't want some other band to grab the name and have a court say we couldn't sell the CD's. that's not so applicable these days I guess.

  • Meegs

    Careful using names that allude to other artists, people, Historical figures etc… We used to call ourselves Dali's Elvis and were threatened with a law suit from Elvis Enterprises. We ended up eating the cost of our trademark application and changing our name…

  • Buck

    If your business or band name is important and worth it to you, you will trademark it. If your band is just a hobby, then it doesn't matter. You must do research on the name before you file. Research it in general. It's not meant to be easy for a reason. You can't have every tom, dick or harry trademarking words for no purpose. There are laws that govern intellectual property and the registration process is there for a reason. So you can enforce it.

    Just imagine you build up your business empire and after 5 years of doing it receiving that cease and desist letter, and if you refuse, an almost guaranteed loss in federal court.

    The process of enforcing your trademark is unpleasant business, but necessary. If myspace does not listen to you then you need to provide proof of registration and use professionally used harsher language with them. Be persistent, it takes time. Better yet go after the party who is infringing on your mark. Force them to delete it, they the infringers, not myspace.

    Before you do any of this ask yourself these questions, is my band/business worth it? Am I seriouse about it and it's future? Or are we just messing around?

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  • Jake Band

    Hey trademarking is important but for some guys they just don’t have the thousands to spend getting the trademark. When you are busting your balls covering band costs who has got the thousands to cough up for legals.

    That’s where comes in. It’s a 100% free service (at least at the moment) and you can register your band name with to show ‘prior use’. They even send you a certificate and give you a dedicated web page.

    All for free. 

    Heck … If you want to cover your bases, do both!

  • Thanks for sharing.

  • Style Alert

    Hey – good resource man!

  • In order to protect your band name you need to register it as a trademark. There is no such thing as "free" trade mark protection or registration. This is because in order to register a trademark you need to file an application with the appropriate authorities in the country in question. So for example, if you want to protect your mark in the UK then you need to file an application with the UK Intellectual property Office. All governments charge a fee for registering a trademark. Thus, business that offer to register your mark for free are scams.

    It is important to note that registering your name as a domain name or company name will not stop a competitor using your name as a trade mark, or trying to register your name as their own trade mark. In fact, if someone else registers your name as a trade mark before you do, they may be able to stop you using your domain name and make you transfer it to them.

    A UK Trade Mark Registration gives the proprietor the exclusive right to use the registered trade mark on those goods or services for which it is registered. A registration also gives the owner the right to stop others from using confusingly similar trade marks for their goods or services or for similar goods and services. In some circumstances, the owner of a registered mark can stop others from using a trade mark for goods or services that are not similar to those for which it is registered.

    The cost is usually only a few hundred pounds. So it's not a vast amount of money.

    For further information and free advice on trademarks see

  • Old Sarge

    What no one seems to mention is that is costs more than $300 to TM. As a local band, that's some serious scratch man!

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  • Linda Vee Sado

    We can’t afford it. But we come up too every time someone searches for Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet ” album and how bad can that be? Plus a modified road sign is our logo and everyone tells us they think of us when they see it.
    One person recently said it reminded them to take out our CD on a road trip and play it too.

    Amazingly with all the bands now using SWW we are still the only one on iTunes with any music released. But I used the name to play in Chicago in the early 80s too before Bon Jovi’s album even existed.

    I also discovered a while back too. So probably better than nothing.
    Plus when I did check out a site to TM our name I also read there is a loop hole that if another band has been using the name and already known by it in a particular area you can’t make them stop using it anyway.

    95% of the bands I know don’t seem to last beyond a couple of years anyway. So something to consider before paying high legal fees.
    My suggestion would be to use a name for your band that is a very popular searched word or string of words.
    We were frustrated at first seeing us come up all the time with BJ’s album, but finally realized it is actually advantageous.