There's a lot that goes into starting a business. Aside from obvious considerations as to what you're going to do or make or sell, you have to think about the branding of your business. What are you going to call yourself? What kind of logo will you have? It isn't enough to settle on the first name that you think of, because unless you are absolutely certain as to its originality and uniqueness, there's a good chance you run the risk of infringing upon someone else's already established trademark.
The National Hockey League recently awarded an expansion franchise to Las Vegas, marking the city's first professional sports team in a major league. Amidst the excitement, fans and media members began to speculate as to potential names for the new team, with plenty of gambling-related suggestions being tossed out. Unfortunately, the new team's ownership group is hitting some trademark dead ends.
ESPN reports that franchise owner Bill Foley has had several team names in mind, but that those he favored were already trademarked. Foley also said that the NHL has made it clear that they don't want the name to be associated with gambling. Foley's stated goal is to have a name and logo for the new team as soon as possible, but trademark issues are delaying that process. Foley also stated that despite the desire to get a name and logo for the franchise as soon as possible, he wouldn't consider opening the matter up to public voting, which can go poorly.
While the issues the Las Vegas group faces regarding names and trademarks certainly wouldn't put off future investment in the NHL or other sports leagues (owning a sports team is still a lucrative enterprise), it offers a lesson to other entrepreneurs looking to start a business. A particular name shouldn't be the thing that either gets you to start a business, or conversely keeps you from starting one, but it is an important consideration in the early days of your company. Don't make the mistake of assuming that no one else has ever thought of the same business name as you, clever as it may be. Some internet searching as well as looking at the USPTO database can help determine if your business name of choice is already in use. It's better to have to try and rethink your branding early, before you've spent a considerable amount of time and money on promotional materials and run the risk of infringing on someone else's mark.