CH requiring “trademark-able” names

I thought I had read about this issue before, but cannot find where.

If a CH’s brief for a $200 contest says “must be trademark-able” are we supposed to take the extra time to do that legwork? Or just enter and not check? Skip that contest all together?

Aren’t there SH levels of service that involve trademark searches? Are the CHs that do this requiring a service they aren’t paying for?


Lol I don’t because they have the option to add that service. I don’t have that kind of time :slight_smile: I will enter a few names and move on.


I guess I don’t understand why SH allows them to put the requirement in the brief then.

I’ve done both - for me it just depends on the contest and the award amount. If the CH and SH Managed Service keeps honing in on the fact that they’re looking for a "trademark-able name (they keep running into roadblocks), then I try and do some research myself (not sure if I’m looking 100% correctly, but I try). The $ has to be worth it, AND only if they’ve “liked/loved” some entries. If my entries rated were are all “No Thank You’s” then I move on (just like I do for all contests :))


I guess I would say if the creatives are willing to do the research, then let them do it. If a contest is really interesting to me, I will do that if they are in the US because the trademark search is easy. But there are no guarantees on trademarks!

However, this is really an “all things considered” issue for me. And by that I mean that I look at the CHs history on all contests they have run, whether or not it is a guaranteed contest (a no-go for me) and I guess I would say there are probably other things I think about when deciding to participate. If I know I have great ideas for the contest, I will.


Trademark law can be very intimidating and it’s why there are attorneys who specialize in it. Way too many people, especially CH’s, believe that a name can only be trademarked once. This is completely wrong. Look at a name like Delta, it has been trademarked legally over 200 times, I read that somewhere.

And then you have a name like the ‘Slants’ which is a music group that made headlines a few months ago. The Trademark Office ruled that they couldn’t trademark the name because it was disparaging to a race of people. They took it to court and finally the Supreme Court overruled the Trademark Office and allowed the trademark, citing free speech.

I am only mentioning all of this to demonstrate how complicated trademark law can be. We should probably consider ourselves to be unqualified to determine if a name is trademarkable or not. Or at least add the caveat that you should always contact a legal professional.


It is never your role as the Creative to do Trademark research. If you see a CH post something like this in a brief, you can certainly send it to SH via the blue button, and we may choose to communicate with the CH. You of course should not address this with the CH directly.

It is always nice when Creatives spend 30 seconds doing a very quick Google search on a name before submitting it though.



Can there please be something explaining a little about trademarks to CHs? Maybe something along the lines that suggests that just because a name or, rather more precisely, a word is trademarked that it does not mean it is necessarily a conflict for them. Giving a sea of orange just because of potential conflicts does them no good and us neither if they don’t realize that TMs are a bit more complicated than that. There are some words out there that have 2000 TMs on them, it doesn’t mean that any of those trademarks will be a possible conflict for them and that is where a bit of leg work on their part may be required. But so many contests want real words and to have free domain names, and free trademarks. This is becoming too complicated and to get turned away right out of the gate just because the TM checker marks as a potential conflict (without explanation o how certain conflicts can exist or even how seeming conflicts may not be conflicts at all) is making things more so. That means there is so many entries they could like or even love if they just knew that there is a chance their name is able to be trademarked, just depends on industry and usage. If they don’t understand this then they are not only doing us that spent so much time figuring out names for them – a disservice, but they are doing themselves a disservice too.

Edit: I just think it would be very useful and informative for CHs to know that they could be turning away names they liked or may be limiting their choices if they assume just because they see ‘potential’ conflicts that an ‘actual’ conflict exists or because one doesn’t exist that there wont be conflicts down the road. The only way to find this out would be to enlist the help of SH, if you all can do this, or seek legal TM advice. It’s a bit harder, and more steps, and maybe even more expensive than what they planned – but an often mandatory part of the process as it is.


I have been frustrated too when I have entries rejected for that reason,then when I checked the trademarks, there either was no conflict, or dead trademarks,or where only part of the word is being used by another company, or a company has something similar in a completely different field.(Think Dove Soap and Dove Chocolates…no one would confuse those,even though they share Dove in the name). There is as you said, Rareworthy…a world of difference between what someone can stretch a name to be a “potential” conflict…and one that actually is.Everyone wants a clever fresh name that has never been used in any way shape or form in the world.Very unlikely. And so many are so unaware of how impossible their requests are to have a real word name under 10 letters (or sometimes 4-5 letters) with a clear .com and trademarkable with no misspellings. Not gonna happen.


So is this why I have been seeing the reason ‘possible conflicts’ over and over?


Assumably so. We’ve discussed the meaning of it before and it can either mean that there are potential conflicts with competitors or potential conflicts with trademarks. But yes, most likely.

We are working to add some information on Trademarking to our CH educational information.