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Naming a Business that happens to be a song title?

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by Elise457, Jun 12, 2008.

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  1. Elise457

    Elise457 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hello,

    I am opening a coffee shop and thought a great name would be "Sugar Sugar" and I soon realized that I liked the catchy name, because it was an old school song? The name is available in the State and Town in which I reside, but are there other implications that go along with using that? Do I have to ask permission? I would love some sound advice on the matter.

    Thanks a bunch!
     
  2. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    I don't think The Archies would sue you. :D To begin, you'd probably want to do a trademark search to see if the name is taken. Do it asap (uspto.gov) and perhaps you might also want to setup a corporation. To understand how trademark works, it basically is a system devised to prevent a likelihood of confusion. If you had a shop named "Coca Cola Shop" it could be confused as being associated with you know who. However it is doubtful that the name of your shop, coincidentally the name of a song, which are in two different categories or "classes." I would highly doubt there is a problem but if you're investing in this shop and believe you've got a great name... make sure you've got a decent attorney and trademark it!

    Best of luck to you and hope your business turns out sweetly. :D
     
  3. nukeemusn

    nukeemusn New Member

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    Mmmm... coffee...

    In addition, I believe that song titles themselves cannot be copyrighted. There have been numerous times where two totally different songs have the same name. Nobody throws the flag on them. So, in my not-a-lawyer-but-used-to-want-to-be-a-songwriter limited expertise, I'd say that the fact that it's a song title is irrelevant. The other factors named above in thelawprofessor's post might, though.

    Now I have a coffee craving...
     
  4. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    Nuke - I think the issue we are talking about is trademark, which is a little different. There is no question you can trademark a song name, e.g. I will call my store that sells womens shoes "Honky Tonk Woman" - and the Rolling Stones wouldn't have a claim against me. Sugar Sugar uses two English words which, by themselves, one should be able to file a trademark that identifies a business running a coffee shop.

    With regard to copyright, it is usually applicable to longer "works of authorship" and not a short title. Without going too far into depth, we can't have short phrases of the English language being protected from unauthorized use but we can say that we should afford protection for someone's short novel.
     

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