Question about band names...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Battlemode, Oct 23, 2011.

  1. Battlemode


    Mar 8, 2011
    St. Louis
    Hey everyone, I have a question about band names. I've done a few searches about this but didn't really find anything solid. One of my bands had a show tonight and a guitarist from one of the other bands told me that he tried to look up my band before the show and he found another band with the same name. My band only plays out once every couple of months in relatively small venues and haven't toured or sold any merch or anything. The other band is a few states over, but they're signed to a label and would probably fall into the same genre. I like my band's name, but don't mind changing it; I don't want to step on anyone's toes, I don't like not having an original name, and I want to avoid any hassles. Also, we eventually want to play out of town (we've both toured before, but not in this band). My question is: what makes one band name different enough from another (if that makes sense)? I want to keep the spirit of the original name, but even if I change the words out for obvious synonyms the names are still taken by other, different bands. Would mashing the two words together (the band name is 2 words) and pluralizing it be enough? For example (not the real name), say my band was named "Hungry Alligator". I find there's another band with the same name, so I decide to change it to "Starving Alligator". This name is also taken, as is the name "Benjamin Franklin and the Starving Alligators" . Would changing the band name to "starvingalligators" be enough? Any other advice, especially from people who've had this problem/have legal knowledge?
  2. owlie


    Jun 5, 2011
    First off yep I think its proper that you change your bands name to avoid possible hassle in the future. Thats just because if the other band is "well known" and signed to a label...

    I feel that it isn't misleading if you do a little play with words there is a lot of bands in the world that are named likely or even have the same name just operate in different countries.

    Does your band play metal? If so I would suggest taking a look at metal archives. To get a hint what you are up against... ;)

    When we named our band we did quite extensive web search that is we googled it :D... and after naming the band and having made website, myspace etc. we feel that is enough :meh: of course you can atleast in here Finland register the band as a company and as a company you own the names trademark.(i think)..

    Hopefully someone better knowing will update so I don't talk too much bull....
  3. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    If either your band or the other band with the same name are aiming to be national acts, or if you're playing in the same local markets, change the name. If it's a situation where you've got a strictly local cover band and there's another local cover band halfway across the country with the same name, I wouldn't worry about it.
  4. Battlemode


    Mar 8, 2011
    St. Louis
    From poking around on all of the other bands sites, I think we're all originals bands. As for goals, we're not aiming to be a big national act or anything, but we would like to sell cd's and tour. I can't speak for the other bands ambitions, but the one that my band currently shares a name with is signed and I assume distributed nationally, even if I'm not sure on what scale. The two bands with names similar to my "next best choice" are both unsigned, regional acts as far as I can tell.
  5. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I can't speak to the legalities...and particularly where one draws the line between two names that seem similar (i.e. How similar is similar?), particularly when there is a trademark involved.

    But from a purely practical standpoint, I would change the name - now rather than later, before you stand to lose even more "mindshare", i.e. name recognition, brand equity, etc., once the name change becomes inevitable.

    Question: Did you not conduct an extensive name search prior to choosing your current name? If not, that was a dumb bit of negligence.

    Before you do anything more, you and your bandmates should do some in-depth brainstorming about "who" you want to be from now on - preferably with a short list of alternative names and/or minor tweaks - then begin searching, to see if anyone else has already claimed any of them.

    These days, it's assumed that any serious band is going to own its own domain name. So part of your due diligence should be to conduct a WHOIS search, to see whether your name(s) of choice has already been taken. And if not, grab that baby!


  6. Savage_Dreams


    Jan 8, 2007
    i dont have much info on the legal side either, but i wouldnt want people to get confused if they look up my band on the internet and find the wrong group.
  7. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    No. Not enough to make you safe from having to change it again later, or to withstand a legal challenge.

    And you're already experiencing the problem this has; fan confusion. So like others said, change the name now, and find something unique. Something no other band in the world has (at least according to google). It can be done.

    Also, since you're starting from scratch, pick something you can get the .com for. And not [yourbandname] or [yourbandname] Those are lame.

    And be sure to post the inevitable "Help me name my band" thread here! :p
  8. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Change your name. Date of name origination holds in court, and my uncle's band won a lawsuit against a christian band back in the 80's. They basically had to prove that their band was in existence earlier.
  9. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Man, I love the Starving Alligators.

    They ROCK!
  10. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    And there ya go.

    ^ Fans obviously like it.

    No google hits for "starving alligators band." is available.

    Your work is done!
  11. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Oh, please. Not another one... :rollno:

  12. Zoa


    Dec 28, 2009
    ^ aaaaaahhhhhhh!!! it's HIM! Supporting member of doom! :bag:
  13. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Only fear copying the name of a band that makes enough money to hire a lawyer.

    If the other band is not in your area, it probably won't matter. There will be no conflict of interest unless you play the same venues.

    if you are lucky and hit it big enough for others to come out of the woodwork and sue you, hire a lawyer to craft a reasonable settlement and laugh all the way to the bank.
  14. Battlemode


    Mar 8, 2011
    St. Louis
    Hey everyone, thanks for the replies and the advice. After poking around on the other band's site a little more today, I think I have at least a partial understanding of how this could have happened. We started using the name around summer of last year. The other band started a long time ago as a one man side project (they definitely had the name first), but only became a full band and was signed (I assume) fairly recently. I remember doing a cursory search when we started using the name, but if their internet presence was minimal (i.e. still a one man outfit and/or unsigned) I might have missed them (it's also very possible that it's totally my fault and I just missed them outright). Either way, I agree with the comments about fan confusion and finding the wrong band on a search, and I also don't want to step on an up and coming band's toes. My band is a drum/bass 2 piece that the drummer and I do for fun when we can find the time between work/school/life, and if there's another band with the same name giving it a real go then I don't want to be in their way. So, in order to avoid any confusion and as a matter of intra-band courtesy we're going to change. The thing that sucks is we both really like the name, and actually like the most obvious "synonym" of the name (that's already being used by even more bands) just as much, if not more. However, we've gone through 3 name changes already (long story, but each name was for a different "incarnation" of the same band over the course of a few years) and one of the names we've used is definitely original and our crowd will know it, so I think we're going to do the easy thing and revert back to that name. When I get the new pages going I'll put a link up here. Thanks again for all the help!
  15. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    Search for the thread "Legal Advice: Contacted by a Band's Attorney." (Sorry, there I can't link directly to it at the moment.) There was an extensive discussion in that thread about the pros and cons of using the same name as another band.
  16. Lazarus.Bird

    Lazarus.Bird Mr. Personality

    Aug 16, 2010
    Yep that's my thread lol. Long story short our name was part of the name of another band and they came after us. If you are serious about your band, pick a name and pay to have it trademarked. If you are like us, pick a name and change it whenever another band's law firm contacts you ;)
  17. Battlemode


    Mar 8, 2011
    St. Louis
    I just paged through it. A few of the posts were really informative, and as one of the posters said an abridged version would make a good sticky about this whole thing. Again, thanks for all the help everyone.
  18. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008

    Both available. Pick one and register it asap.
  19. aztomr


    Oct 5, 2010
    I really like Starving Armadilos, very catchy, memorable.:bassist:
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