Sunday, July 22, 2012

Name That Band

I'm not heavily into volunteerism. When I earn money, my parents insist that I contribute 10% to a church or charity. I usually give more than the 10% they asked me to donate, not because I'm overly generous but because some worthy cause usually presents itself after I've already made my planned donation.  From time to time I've also played piano free of charge for people or organizations that could not have afforded my services, but my contributions have largely been gifts of cash rather than of my time.

So it was rather flukish set of circumstances that placed me in my present volunteer/ community service situation. I help local bands find names, research the legality of the names where necessary, and make the connections to  help bands to trademark their names when they're willing to invest the funds to protect their bands' names.

The vast majority of bands remain geographically local to their area of origin. Most will not become nationally or internationally known.  Name use with regard to local bands isn't terribly complicated. Local bands take their names very seriously and are quite protective of their bands' names, but still the procedures are straightforward. The rule of thumb is that a band doesn't use a name that is already being used in one's own city or geographical area. If another band in another area uses one's name and makes it big, unless the name was previously trademarked or documented, chances are that the band who achieved the most success will be found to own the name if ownership of the name ever reaches the point of litigation. In general, if no documentation procedures were initiated, the first band to record under a name will be found to be in ownership of that name. When a conflict exists, sometimes one or both groups will modify it very slightly.

U.S. trademarking typically costs  $325.00 (Class1) plus attorney fees of roughly $150. Trademarking only covers the nation in which something was trademarked. I'm obviously not yet an attorney, so I make referrals to attorneys for actual trademark filing. I could probably manage the paperwork, but I wouldn't want to charge bands for the work, but it would be too much work to do gratis.

A less expensive way of protecting a group's name is to create a Wikipedia page about the group listing the date the group was created, and monitoring the page frequently to ensure that it is not edited  to reflect less advantageous dates than the correct ones.

My favorite aspect of band naming is helping individuals in a band to come up with a name. I got started with this when someone in one of my classes didn't have a name for his band. One day before class, he asked those of us who were in the classroom before the professor appeared to give him ideas for names for his band. My suggestion was "Smith Family." My classmate liked the name for his all-Asian-American group.  He told others where he got the name, and members of other unnamed or inadequately named bands began to approach me for suggestions.

When I'm asked,  I usually think for a few minutes, then write down five or so names for the band to ponder.  I'm now more organized than I used to be. Whenever I give out a list of names, I write them down for myself as well as for the person who asked. I get a phone number so I can find out if the band used any of my suggestions If they're sure they don't want unused names from the list I gave them, I make a note of it.. Then if I really like one of my unused suggestions, I can offer the name to another group if it's fitting.

This hobby gives me connections to a group of people I probably otherwise never would have known. Broadening one's social experience is or should be a part of everyone's education.

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