Thursday, August 28, 2014

I sold a perfume name -- a trademark -- for cash

    Today I want to share information with you that I have yet to share with readers of "Perfume Strategies You Missed This Month" and have just now shared with Perfume Strategies subscribers. I want to talk to you about naming your perfume because that name alone can have value.

    This month, out of the blue, I received a cash offer for the name of one of my fragrances. In less than two weeks a deal had been struck and payment made -- for just a name.

    If you don't understand what this is about and why a name -- a name alone -- should have value, let me explain.

    When you name a fragrance and offer it for sale, that name becomes a trademark and, if no one has used it for a fragrance before you, you acquire legal rights to that name, even though you never registered the trademark.

    Now picture what happens when some other company wants to launch a perfume with that name. If they are a large company, and unless they are really clueless, they will ask their lawyers to "clear" that name -- to make sure it is not already registered or in use by someone else. If the name is already being used, regardless of whether the user is a large or small company, they have a problem.

    If the first user has registered the name and kept their registration active, the Trademark Office will deny registration to the newcomer, even if it is a marketing giant.

    But what happens if someone like myself is using the name without ever having registered it? If the lawyers come across my use, perhaps through a Google search, they know that I have rights to that name, even without a formal registration.

    Now the new marketer can (a) ignore the fact that I am using the name and risk getting sued, or (b) purchase the rights to the name from me, if I am willing to sell.

    In my case I was approached by a member of a law firm representing an unnamed client who wanted to acquire my rights to the name, and they were prepared to write a check immediately. While I have no way of knowing what was going on behind the scenes, I can sketch out two possible scenarios.

    One possibility was that the client company was running up a list of names for their lawyers to clear and the lawyers stumbled across my fragrance's name on the internet and, after discussions, decided that if they could acquire it from me for a modest sum, it would be worth the money.

    The other possibility is that the client company was already committed to bringing out their own fragrance with the same name and then -- after having made a considerable investment in graphics, packaging, and promotional materials -- their lawyers discovered my use of the same name and the potential for a costly, messy, trademark dispute. Perhaps to nip such a problem in the bud, the lawyers quickly approached me with an offer, hoping the problem could be laid to rest for a modest payment.

    I have no way of knowing how much the name might have been worth to the other people. But if I were to demand a large sum for the name, the other side might simple have said, "we don't need it that badly" and I would lost a chance to make a a bit of pocket change. After all, I was just selling the name, not the formula. In less than six months my same fragrance will be back on the market with a new name.

    So out of the blue I was offered money for a name. I sold the name and took the money. Now let's talk about you, your marketing plan, and how you might benefit if you are a winner in our contest.

    As mentioned, I was paid for a name alone because I had legal rights to that name. Those rights were acquired not when I came up with the name itself but when I slapped a label with that name on a bottle of fragrance and went out and began selling it.

    The rights to a name -- a trademark -- are acquired by using that name on a product "in commerce." That is, you gain a legal right and a potentially valuable property by using your name on a product you are selling.

    Now the prize for winners in our contest is a handful of bottles of a perfume I have made but with YOUR chosen name on them. If you give your fragrance a name that is not already in use, you will acquire a powerful right to that name when you begin to sell.

    You don't have to register the name. The fragrances in the bottle doesn't have to be your own brew. But your name should be original. You should be the first to use it for a fragrance.

    So how do you know whether your name is "original"? You can never be 100 percent sure but, for reasonable certainty, you can take two steps.

    First, you can do a Google search for the name, adding perhaps the words "fragrance," "perfume," "cologne" and such. If no fragrance pops up with a name even close to your name there's a good chance that you are in the clear.

    Then you can take it one step farther by going to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website and doing a (free) search of their TESS database. If nothing shows up even close to your name in Category 3 (perfumes and other stuff), once again it is likely that the name can be yours, if you go out and sell.

    So here you are with a contest that gives you a chance to get those bottles. All you need, to acquire a valuable property, is a good marketing plan (to be among the winners in this contest) and a good name for your perfume.

    For more on developing a marketing plan for our contest, study these two resources --

    (1) How To Write a Simple Marketing Plan (

    (2) An Example Of A Simple Marketing Plan (

    Your "entry form" for the contest is a simple marketing plan -- one that can really work! And remember, the name you give your fragrance can be valuable. The name alone.

    (If you are curious as to which name I sold, look at this website now. Then check back in December, 2014, to see which fragrance name is missing.)

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