AskPat 470 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and thank you for joining me in Episode 470 of AskPat. We've got a great one today, and as always I'm here to help you by answering your online business questions five days a week. Today's question is from Josh.
But before we get to Josh's question, I do want to thank today's sponsor. First up is Lynda.com, an amazing website with over 3,000 on-demand video courses. These are high quality studio quality courses in training and workshops to help you through a whole mess of things related to your business, technology, and creative skills. I've used it myself to help me with learning how to use Excel, with Google Apps, with using Photoshop, and InDesign, and also it helps for tax fundamentals. There so many things here that can help you whether your an entrepreneur or working 9 to 5 or both. It can help you increase your skills so you can increase your results. Go ahead and check it out for 10 days for free by going to Lynda.com/AskPat That's L-Y-N-D-A.com/AskPat. Check it out you'll love it.
All right, here's today's question from Josh.
Josh: Hey, Pat. Hope you're doing well, brother. My name is Josh. I'm an Air Force Veteran trying to create a podcast interviewing men and women of the Air Force about their specific AFACs. Which basically means their jobs. I think this will help young people make a more informed decision on joining the Air Force or not. And if they do, then what career field best fits their goals. I'm running into a speed bump though the Air Force's own trademarks on USAF, U.S. Air Force, United States Air Force, and are currently filing for for trademark on Air Force, which I have no doubt they'll get. I know you're not a trademark lawyer, but you do have a lot of experience in this in the early years of the Green Exam Academy. So here's my question: How do you come up with a name that is generic enough? That doesn't infringe on a big-name trademark, but still clearly communicates your product or service to your audience? Thanks, Pat. Take care.
Pat Flynn: Hey, Josh. What's up? Thank you so much for the question, and also I appreciate you and all you've done to serve this country. Thank you. Everybody out there who's in the military for putting your lives out there for all of us here to keep our freedom. So thank you so much for this, Josh, and we appreciate your service.
Now to answer your question, yes, this is a very difficult topic. Not difficult in the sense that it's hard to answer. But it's difficult, because I've had experience with this myself. When I first started my Green Exam Academy website, it wasn't called the Green Exam Academy website; it was called “In the LEED”. L-E-E-D was the name of the exam I was creating study material for, and that was the trademark that was owned by the United States Green Building Council. And around mid- to early 2009, I got a very nice letter, which was actually not very nice. It was a cease-and-desist letter telling me I had to stop everything I was doing within fourteen days or else. And of course, I freaked out. I actually went through a period where for a few days I was like, I'm done! Nope, no more online business for me. I'm not cut out for this. But I finally got caught up with a lawyer. They told me I was just using a trademark in my domain name, which I wasn't supposed to do. And I didn't know that, but looking back, I'm like, how silly of me. But, I didn't create that site really to become a business—it kind of turned into one. But its important to think about this.
Now, there are businesses out there that have very successful businesses that have trademarks in their name. A lot of ones related to Blizzard, actually, are ones that come to mind. Blizzard is a company that owns World of Warcraft and other companies like that, or other games and things like that that they've created. And, what's cool is that they know that people who use their stuff are gonna do this, and they know the power behind it. And that's the crazy thing about it, is a lot of times we're trying to help these companies, but in legal terms it's just not allowed to do it. But at any moment in time, Blizzard could turn around and say nope, can't do it anymore; sorry, guys. And that would be bad. And there's other companies like eBay and Facebook. They've cracked down on people who use eBay and Facebook in their domain names too. I kind of get where they're coming from. They're trying to protect their name, and that's important, of course.
So what can we do? Well you can create a domain name that describes what it is you're doing. For instance I created Greenexamacademy.com because this exam was also known as the “Green Exam” in the industry, and that was very helpful. But you can also use acronyms, I think are also important, although you said even the trademarks are, or even the acronyms are trademarked too, so you've got to be careful with that. “AF” could be one that you could use that isn't trademarked, but again, you're walking that line there. A lot of people use truncated versions: for instance, there's a lot of websites that use Azon for Amazon. So A-Z-O-N instead of Amazon, because Amazon is a trademark of course. Now, UFC is one that comes to mind, Ultimate Fighting Champions, or championship. But there is also MMA, or mixed martial arts, which I don't know if those are necessarily trademarked, but they're used all the time, at least in taglines. And that's where I think you could come in with the Air Force-specific lingo, is in your tagline. You definitely don't want it to be in your domain name, just for safety purposes.
There are workarounds to that: you can, for example, work with certain companies, I don't know about the Air Force, but you can work with other companies to get the rights to use that, or license the right to use those trademarks in the domain name. That could potentially cost a lot of money or take a lot of time, but that is an option if you really feel like you could use this domain name that is a trademark and it would benefit both parties. You might want to have that conversation, but Josh, it seems like you might have to find a workaround or just stay away from even making it close to that. So, what I would recommend is pick a domain name or a title for a show or podcast or blog or whatever it is that you're trying to do online. Pick a name that people who are in this space would understand. It could be some saying or mantra. It could be some symbol or something like that. I don't know a specific example for you right now; you're gonna have to take some time to brainstorm this, and brainstorming things like this is gonna take time. I think that's the most important thing, so don't get frustrated if you can't come up with something right away. Talk about this with other people too. I'm very appreciative that you've asked this question too, because this starts this conversation for a lot of people, I think, and hopefully we'll get your gears turning.
But let's go back to the UFC stuff, for example. So maybe I'm building a site to help people join UFC. Definitely not qualified to do that myself, but maybe I might just for the purposes of this example. And I don't want to use UFC or Ultimate Fighting Championship in my domain name, of course, because that's trademarked, and I know that, and I want to stay away from that. I would check to see if something like MMA is, something that is almost synonymous with it, or is a part of that world that I'm trying to serve, MMA or mixed martial arts. Maybe I'd call it Mixed Martial Arts with Pat. Or MMA Answers. Or, I don't know, I don't know. Again, you're gonna have to do some research, make sure you do your trademark checks. If you want to be sure, I would check with a trademark attorney just to make sure that whatever it is you're doing isn't going to step on anybody's toes. But there are free pattern searches you could do, not pattern searches, but trademark searches you can do on USPTO.gov to check that out.
So, yeah, Josh, I think you're on the right path in terms of trying to stay away from using those trademarks. You definitely don't wanna do that, and the strategy would be to pick something that when people hear it, it could be generic enough where they would still know what it's about. And if there's some sort of mantras or sayings or slogans, be careful with those too, because those can often be trademarked. But something that everybody who is in the Air Force can relate to, maybe it's something they say or something they chant at some point, or some insider thing, that could then become the well-known brand that you build. That's where I would start. Then you could use these terms that would make sure that people who come across your site and podcasts, what they know it's about in the descriptions and the keywords and the articles that you write and all those sorts of things. But yeah, that's how I'd go about it.
So, Josh, thank you so much for your question, and again, thank you for your service, and I appreciate you calling in today. We're gonna send you an AskPat t-shirt for having your question featured here on the show, and again, I hope I've at least given you some things to think about in regards to this predicament here. But again, kudos to you for going down this path and trying to figure it out now than later when it's too late or a headache because of some legal issues. So, thank you so much again.
For anybody out there who has a question that you'd like potentially featured here on the show, just head on over to AskPat.com; you can ask right there on that page. I also want to thank another sponsor today, and that is Braintree. Yes, Braintree. I want to thank them for sponsoring today's episode as well. Braintree gives you a full-stack payment solution, which means it provides support for all payment types, whatever you're building. If you're building anything from a membership site to an app or some brand-new service, Braintree can be your full-stack payment solution; they have support for all payment types for your customers. For example, Android Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal, Bitcoin, Venmo, cards, whatever's next. All within a single integration. That's what makes it cool and great across all platforms. The superior fraud protection, of course, customer service, and fast payouts too. To check it out for yourself, visit Braintreepayments.com/pat. Again that's Braintreepayments.com/pat.
Thanks so much. I appreciate your time today, and as always, I like to end with a quote. And today's quote is from Maxi Foreman: “Ambition is the stream that drives men forward on the road to success. Only the engine under full steam can make the grade.” Cheers, and I'll see you tomorrow in the next episode of AskPat. Bye.
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