Monday, April 16, 2012

Should We Register at BandName.com?

Dear Rich: We have three possible band names that we want to use. We're going to decide when we finish our record next month. We can't afford to file a federal registration for all three so you do you think it's worth it to pay $45 to register the three names at BandName.com. We're not positive, but we don't think that BandName.com would want you to register band names unless you are using them. To "reserve" band names at the directory would defeat one of the purposes of the site, which is to put the world on notice as to which names are currently being used.
Is it worth it to register? According to our research, BandName.com is an online directory of band names that you can search at least six times without having to pay a fee. After six searches, there is a $15 fee that enables unlimited searching and registration of your band’s name. If you're doing a lot of searching for band names, it's probably worth the $15. Bandname.com appears to be a fairly thorough band directory that includes bands that have registered and more importantly, many who have not. We tested two obscure bands that had not registered with the service and they both showed up. At the same time -- and as the site points out --  just because a band name is in the directory doesn't mean that the name is currently in use.
What does registration of the band name get you? We’re not sure what the registration of a band name at BandNames.com gets you … apparently your band’s name is included in the online and print directories, thus serving as notice to others searching the directory that you are claiming rights in the name. It’s true – as the website claims – that establishing prior usage is the key to preventing legal challenges. But registering at BandNames.com does not establish prior usage, it merely records your claim. You establish prior usage by selling recordings, playing shows and by selling music and merchandise on the Internet under the band name. In other words, much as we like it as a search engine of band names, we don't think that registering with the service will gain any new rights for you.