What's In a Name?
Johnny Cash touched on the subject of identity confusion in the song Girl Named Sue, but intellectual property rights are no light-hearted matter. At some point in between working on a business plan for your property development, grabbing another espresso and hitting the Range-Rover website to see which model was in Miami Vice, you realize your project needs a name.
Thumb through any of the property papers on the island and the list of ongoing projects is now longer than the line at an ATM on payday. With Phuket catering primarily to resort buyers, names that use or combine terms such as "view", "beach", "ocean", "sand" and so on all blend into one's subconscious. It has become difficult to distinguish one from another.
First, you will need to lodge an application to form a company to develop the project. In most cases, your lawyer will ask for two or three names in case one of them is not available. From a credibility standpoint, it reassures potential buyers if a company's name relates directly to the company's projects. Once the company registration is complete, the next step is to look at marketing materials and a project name.
With a growing propensity to source potential buyers on the Internet, names that have keyword significance in search engines are important. A decent starting point is to jot down a few names that mix keywords and combine them with a distinct lead name. Go to one of the web-domain registration sites, such as www.godaddy.com, and see which ones are available. Ideally, you want a ".com" address without hyphens. Imagine someone hearing the name of your project and being able to just type the name into Google to find your website. That's what you're after.
It's important to highlight in a name unique selling points, such as sea views. References to architectural or design elements of a property will help you stand out from the crowd. Geographic identifiers are also useful, especially when you are located in premium areas, such as Surin or Bang Tao.
Before creating logos and brochures, register your domain and then go to your lawyer's office to start a trade-name registration. Despite a visible counter culture of pirated DVDs and consumer goods, Thailand has a sophisticated intellectual-property protection act in accordance with international standards. While the approval process can take up to a year, if someone infringes on a name you have applied for, you can take legal action. As a final step, once a logo has been designed, register a service mark for it.
Don't confuse trade names and service marks. One is an actual name while the other is a logo or graphic depiction unique to a project or company. Imagine your project is a success and you are looking to take advantage of your brand equity by taking on institutional investors, going public or developing more projects under the same name. You need a legal right to your name, brand and logo. With so many new developments entering the marketplace, there are people who would like to benefit from your hard work by copying you. If someone is using your name or logo you should seek legal advice immediately.
Making sure you take your big idea to the bank can be made easier if you protect your intellectual property from day one.