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Can I name my business same as a movie title that is a common phrase?

Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 5:40 pm
by olga.pu
Hi! Can I name my business using the foreign phrase that been a title for a foreign movie? It's a totally common phrase like "in the morning" or "at midnight" but in another language. Sounds really catchy and brings to mind freshness - ideal for my skin care business. The movie is old and well known and about social matters in Xvi century - something totally different. Still ...advise please? Thank you, Olga

Re: Can I name my business same as a movie title that is a common phrase?

Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:08 am
by AndyJ
Hi Olga,
From a copyright point of view that would be OK. Titles of books, films etc usually don't attract copyright in their own right because they are too short, and in the case you mention, being a common phrase means that the title would lack originality, which is a key ingredient for copyright protection.

The second issue concerns trade marks, and if this was a modern film, then I would have advised caution because it is fairly usual for modern film titles to be registered as trade marks, especially if there is a chance there may be spin-off merchandise associated with the film (eg Star Wars, Harry Potter movies). However as you say this is an old film, it is less likely that its title has been registered. Trade marks are registered for specific categories of goods or services, and so registration of the film title would only be a problem if it covered items connected with the skin care business, as of course you would be using the words as the name for your skin care business and this might be seen as infringing the trade mark. You can check whether the words are registered as a trade mark in the UK by using the Intellectual Property Office website. The class of goods and services which apply to the skin care business are Class 3 (toiletries and cosmetics) and Class 44 (human hygiene and beauty care services).
Occasionally individuals or companies unconnected with the original film register film titles either on a speculative basis or for the same reason that you would like to use a title (eg here with reference to 1967 French film Belle de Jour), so it is worth checking just in case this has happened with the title you are interested in.

Re: Can I name my business same as a movie title that is a common phrase?

Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 7:32 pm
by olga.pu
This is very helpful indeed.

I did run a check trademark wise in UK and nothing popped up (dead, alive, exact word, similar, string etc.). I started digging deeper and found some manga series with the same title (the movie and the phrase are Japanese) and I think there is a music band with an exact same name and a song title by some other vocalist and also 2 martial art schools in 2 different countries named after the movie definitely referring to the movie. So it has been used by other businesses with direct reference to the movie!

The movie was made in 1998 so its not ancient old but it's not a brand new either. If you type it into google first few pages are solely movie references from Imdb and other movie sites, then articles and so on. Soon it will be my website among them. Was wondering if it's a success and say I reach first page on google .... what might happen then, would someone take interest in my business and so on.

Could you also advise .... do you think I should consult a copyright lawyer or just go with it? What's your thoughts? Because honestly I think they would say exactly what has been already said here.

Thank you for your help.

Re: Can I name my business same as a movie title that is a common phrase?

Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:46 pm
by AndyJ
Hi again Olga,

Based on what you have said about others also using the words of the film title for different purposes, and the fact that you mentioned previously that the words are pretty commonplace, I really don't think you have anything to worry about. While the name of the film may be well-known, as far as a film company is concerned, they would only act if they thought your use was likely to damage the earning potential or the reputation of the film. I doubt if, after 22 years, anyone else using the same words in a different context would be likely to have any economic impact on the film's revenue.