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I started managing a music band. How can I check if the name has been trademarked? or if someone else is using that name?

San Diego, CA |

The band is young, 3 high school kids and one college student but they are very talented and I see potential. I just want to protect them from any legal issues with them using a name that is already registered or trademarked

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Attorney answers 6


Congratulations on your new role as the band's manager. To perform a search for registered trademarks I encourage you to visit the United States Patent & Trademark Office and perform an online search for registered trade names. If you don't see it registered you may be in the clear to apply for registration. However, keep in mind that registration itself can be an important business decision.

Do you and the band have agreements in place that describes who will own the trademark? Has the band provided you with authority to apply for the trademark? Whose name will the trademark be registered to? These are all important factors in the process. I'd recommend that you get this information settled before proceeding.

A local business attorney can provide you with guidance and legal counseling should you need it.

Readers should not rely upon this information for any purpose without seeking legal advice from a licensed attorney in the reader’s state.

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick


And there are a number of other music industry items that need to be handled. Be sure to involve an entertainment attorney so you cover all your legal issues properly.


You can check on trademarks at the USPTO website listed below. Also, conduct a search in your State and conduct a Google Search to see if the name is in use anywhere else. Be sure to use multiple variations of the words you are searching.

However, for you as the manager, you should check to see if California law requires registration with regard to management. In some states, a person acting as a representative on behalf of another for purposes of promoting the other's talent must register with the state. Before you get too far, it might be helpful to consult a business attorney.

I hope you found my answer helpful. Good luck!

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Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick


Be careful about doing a trademark clearance on your own. I could relate many, many horror stories about businesses, including bands that did that themselves and had to change or fight a conflict.


My colleagues have provided great advice. You need a written management agreement with the band, the band needs a band partnership amongst themselves, the band's songwriters each need a music publishing entity plus a co-publishing agreement for each song they write, and they need to find a music lawyer who can register their musical compositions and sound recordings for copyrights, and register their compositions for performance royalties.

Your jobs, as manager, is to find them a record deal, and to work with a CA licensed talent agent to book their personal appearances --if you don't do that, you'll be in violation of the Talent Agency Act. And of course, find them a music lawyer. Music law is quite complex, and the trademarkability f their chosen name aside, they have to have a lawyer.

Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.


You need to search two places, at a minimum, for trademark conflicts. First, TESS [go to and click on "Search for Trademarks" in the upper right corner and then Basic Wordmark Search (New User) and then enter your desired name. Then, if no conflicts are found, search Google for the name to see if that surfaces a conflict.

Once you do those two searches, and you have a name that does not appear to be in conflict with another prior trademark, see an IP attorney that handles trademarks and have them check it out for you.

However, this is only one of many issues you need to address as a band manager. Go to your public library and get a book on how the music industry works and on band management. Also check Amazon for band management books. This is a complicated area with multiple agreements, licenses, and registrations needed. Of particular importance is setting forth in writing NOW what happens LATER when this band splits profits or splits up, as that almost always happens at some point. For example, who keeps the name?

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.


Spend a weekend reading a few books about the business of music and then read the rules about California Talent Agencies. See the links below. Good luck.

The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.


As others have already mentioned, I would recommend a band partnership agreement before pursuing trademark registration. You should probably consult an attorney for assistance with this. You can find some general tips for drafting a band partnership agreement in a legal guide I wrote located here:

Once you have established who owns the rights in the band name in the band partnership agreement, you should conduct a trademark search. This can be a complex process. You really need a trademark attorney for this. Otherwise, you risk including a mistake or omission on your application, causing it to be rejected. This could result in loss of filing fees and time.

For more information on conducting a trademark search and the registration process, see the USPTO website at For more specific info about trademark searchs, see