How much to buy the rights for a name?

  HighTower 18:45 21 Jan 2003
  HighTower 18:45 21 Jan 2003

Bit of a funny subject this for a computer forum so apologies for that, but my graphic design company has recently been awarded the rebrand contract for a hotel. One of the aspects of this rebrand was to come up with artwork designs and A NAME for a new dining venue they are building which will be launched in late spring.

We're quite happy to charge our normal research and development rate etc for the artwork but have not been in the situation where a client wants to buy a name.

Any computer graphic designers been in this situation before? And what did you charge the client for the name? (they would then own sole rights to the name).

Thanks everyone.

  Sir Radfordin™ 19:09 21 Jan 2003

By name what do you mean?

Do you meen something like XXX house?

You can't just buy a a name, who sells names?

As I read the question, your client seems to be after a trademark for the business - a name by which they are known and which they build their reputation around. The laws for trademarks are complex, and in this situation paying for legal advice would be the best and safest option.

To say you want to buy a name, is like the people who buy a bit of the moon - its no-ones to sell!

I would tread carefully as charge too much and you could well loose the client!

What is involved in thinking up a name? Would an advertiseing agency spend time and money, mabye doing market research as to what the consumer (or diners) though of the new "image" and name?

If so, then I would consider it money well spent. If it is a question of the hotel is simply being lazy and cannot think of one itself, it may take umbridge at a direct reference on the invoice for and entry that reads "To: Thinking of a new Name = £500.00"

As Sir Rad states, the only value that would attach to a name comes after a reputation is built up upon it and it is recognised.

"Starbucks" was worthless when it first put a spoon of instant into a plastic cup. Now that single name may be worth millions even without the business that goes with it.

This is why I referenced the survey of end users, to determine what they thought. Otherwise, what exactly are you "selling"?

  HighTower 19:15 21 Jan 2003

I know what you mean, you can't copyright a name so perhaps I would have made more sense to talk about trademarks.

Put it another way, if they used the name that I came up with anyway without giving me any sort of financial reward where would I stand. Is it just tough luck on my part? As you say, you can't buy a name but surely it's an idea that I would have presented and represents research work that I would need to be paid for. How much is the question as a name can appear to you in a flash while you are in the car or something!

  Sir Radfordin™ 19:19 21 Jan 2003

What you are going towards there is contract law.

As the author you will hold the copyright for work done, that is unless someone else is paying you to work for them.

If you are working on a self-employed/freelance basis then the terms of the contract will determine who holds the copyright for what you do.

You have to charge what you think you are worth and what they will pay. Much easier would be to put a cost on the whole package, unless you think of a name which someone else may want to buy into.

  HighTower 19:24 21 Jan 2003

I think you have probably hit the nail on the head. Perhaps the best way to do it is as you suggest, to sell the whole lot as a package and present them with a total bill. Whilst I think that it's important to charge what you are worth I also don't want to take the mickey and risk annoying the client or even losing the work by adding an additional substantial charge for a name!

I have to dash now but anybody else please add your thoughts and I'll respond as soon as I get in tomorrow. Thanks again everyone.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 20:04 21 Jan 2003

I find it rather strange that a 'graphic design company' knows so little about branding, trademarks and assignment of rights. This wouldn't be an essay for school or a college student doing a bit of extra work, would it?


  graham 20:08 21 Jan 2003

I can sell you "The Brasserie" for £5. No questions asked. ;-)

  €dstow 07:46 22 Jan 2003

Like GANDALF <|:-)>, I find this a very strange question.

We constantly deal with designs and logos. The first an most important thing is to get them registered as trademarks and in every case to do that properly it is best to employ a Trademark Agent who will do a comprehensive worldwide search to check for originality. As well as that an agent can give a good indication as to the value of a trademark (how much you can charge for it) and you have the reassurance that if the mark isn't as original as your agent claimed, it's his fault and he takes the flak in any proceedings.

As for cost, remember the Royal Mail to Consignia fiasco - that cost several millions - all wasted, we now know! Some years ago ICI changed their logo (it consisted of an eye shape saying ICI inside with some "wiggles" under the lettering). The change consisted of altering the number of wiggles under the lettering from five to three - that's all - million quid! And nobody noticed the change.

My company was involved in a logo change required after a company merger. The logos of the separate companies were a stylised daisy-like flower and a chemistry lab type flask shape. All we did was put the flower into the flask. We did change the flask slightly as well. Result? A six figure sum in our bank account. Not all our jobs are that easy by any means.

Get yourself a good Trademark agent!


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