The excellent thread on the Google IPO in the Forums got me looking at that very long SEC Submission. Despite the expensive lawyers, they seemed to have missed an important point, or perhaps it’s rather an exclamation mark. Their competitor isn’t Yahoo, it’s Yahoo!. Of course, that isn’t Google’s problem. I raise it here because it’s a fundamental problem that so many companies just don’t get. It causes them so much trouble and reduces their effectiveness in this Internet world.
The problem was that when Yahoo! tried to acquire its trademark, others had already trademarked Yahoo. If you check it out with the US Trademarks office you will find among others the following Yahoo trademarks:
EBSCO Industries has the trademark Yahoo for: Knives, namely hunting knives, hunting and fishing protective eyeglasses, and other sporting goods.
OLD TOWN CANOE CO. has the trademark Yahoo for: human propelled watercraft; namely, kayaks and canoes
Yahoo is also a trademark for barbecue sauce. At least this one has now been acquired by Yahoo! I wonder how that fits into the master plan!
With enough money and energy, you can do anything. So by now, we all know what Yahoo means, exclamation mark or not. However there is a better way. If you find someone else already “owns” the name as a trademark, then perhaps you should continue to look for another name.
The most ludicrous example of name choosing was done by one of the biggest global consultancy groups. PwC ConsultingTM, a business of PricewaterhouseCoopers, decided they wanted to change their name to give some distance between the consulting and accounting divisions. So what did they come up with? Monday. Yes, I’m not joking. Can you imagine the confusion that can create? They should have realized when they tried to gain it as a trademark. They succeeded but for very precisely defined trade uses. Imagine how difficult is the task of trying to get visibility for your company name on the Internet with that name. You can study more on this crazy endeavour in one of the SMM Newsletters, For More Sales Call Your Company MONDAY. Luckily shortly after this name was adopted, IBM bought the company and the mistake was buried.