By Michael Batenburg of Bed Bugs and Beyond Consulting, special to EO
Choosing the name of a business is one of the hardest things for entrepreneurs. In 2007, I received a hard and potentially devastating lesson about the importance of a name, protecting a brand and the far reaching consequences of trademark law.
Early one morning after an article in a prestigious national newspaper, I received a call from Bed, Bath and Beyond’s general counsel. They wanted us to cease and desist using our company name immediately.
The next day, I contacted the Bed Bath & Beyond legal offices to discuss a meeting. I felt meeting with them was to discuss challenges and a possible compromise was imperative to the survival of my company and growing its own individuality.
“Your name is your brand. Your brand is your message. Your message is your intent and when another company steps into that, you find yourself fighting for what was already yours.“
As we talked, it was clear that the attorneys were not unreasonable, and their goal wasn’t to put us out of business. Their job was to monitor the Bed Bath & Beyond brand. After I explained my company’s name, intentions and mission, we were able to reach a compromise in everyone’s best interest that lead to a mutually beneficial partnership. In this instance, representatives from both companies saw a unique opportunity to enhance our brands by partnering with each other, since victims of bed bug infestations generally opt to purchase new bedding and home items.
At the end of the meeting, we agreed to change our logo and add the word “Consulting” to our name. In my eyes, the meeting was a success; it could have gone a much different way.
Getting the call from those attorneys was terrifying, but I was able to walk away with an important lesson about cultivating and protecting a brand. By taking ownership over your company name, it enables you the security of the company’s individuality, message and intent.