If you’re like most entrepreneurs and business owners, then you’re probably a big fan of podcasts. In fact, you might even have a podcast of your own or one in the works.
You wouldn’t be alone. Podcasts are huge right now.
44% of the US population has listened to a podcast. There are currently over 630,000 podcasts. And that’s a pretty significant increase from just June of 2018, when Apple announced there were over 550,000. (For more podcast stats, see here.)
At this rate, there could be well over ONE MILLION podcasts by the end of 2020.
I was recently chatting and celebrating with a client that had just locked in a trademark registration for their business name. Toward the end of our call, the asked:
“Oh, while I have you, I also have this podcast I’ve been doing for a while. Is the name of that podcast something I can trademark?”
My response: absolutely.
A quick search in the US trademark database reveals over 17,000 trademark applications that deal with trademarks.
Podcasts with trademark protections to support them include
And so on.
If you have a successful podcast with a loyal fanbase of listeners, then you know how important it is to protect this asset. In fact, if you’re a personal brand, then your podcast could be one of your most valuable assets. This podcast is a critical space for you to cultivate your fans from knowing you, to liking you, to trusting you.
One of the last things you’d want is to have to change the name of your podcast because some other podcast is claiming that they have stronger and superior naming rights.
Trademarks is how you deal with that risk and minimize it. Here are three things you can do to keep your podcast protected — whether you’re on episode 219 or still planning for episode 1.
Let’s dig into it.
1. Confirm that the podcast title you want (or anything pretty similar) isn’t already taken.
Searching through iTunes is a good first step, but don’t stop there. Check Google. Make sure that the domain is available. Go to all of the social media platforms you plan on using to promote this podcast and make sure the name isn’t taken by someone else.
It’s great to run those searches. But that’s not the same as doing a proper trademark check. You’ll also want to run a search directly with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
This can all get complicated fast. Here’s what you need to remember as you run these searches: don’t just search for the exact name of the podcast you want. Even if the the two names are slightly different or sell another kind of product or service, you could still be infringing on their rights. This isn’t a very black and white analysis. If you find a similar trademark, it’s a good idea to consult an attorney and see what they would recommend in your specific situation.
2. If you have a really generic name for your podcast, be careful.
Now, you might have chosen a name that is pretty descriptive or generic for what the podcast is about. Maybe you’re preparing to launch something like “The Wedding Planner Podcast” or “The Fitness Coaching Hour.”
A simple, to-the-point name for a podcast isn’t necessary a bad thing. A huge benefit is that it helps people immediately know what the podcast is about. If someone searches for a podcast looking for something specific, then a generic title can really help them find you.
That said, there are some real disadvantages to a generic podcast that you’ll want to consider. The big risk is this — you don’t get to have an exclusive monopoly on a generic or descriptive name.
One of the benefits to strong trademark protections is that you’re protected in case someone else tries to accuse you of infringing on their brand. If that happens and you have proper trademark registrations in place, you can say, “Sorry bro, here’s proof that I own this thing.”
Now, if you have a generic podcast name, then the chances of that happening to you are pretty low.
But think about the other side of that coin for a moment.
While you won’t likely run into someone else accusing you of trademark infringement … you don’t get exclusive dibs on that generic name either.
In other words, if your podcast becomes more successful and someone starts a podcast with a similar name to yours, that could confuse some of your listeners into subscribing to that other podcast thinking that it’s you.
And if something like that happens, and you have a generic trademark, there’s little you can do to stop them.
You might be okay with that risk . . . for now. But what about in 2-3 years? What about when your podcast becomes super successful and you’ve got a huge fanbase of leads spreading the word about your podcast to their friends … but those friends search for the podcast and end up subscribing to another podcast instead?
I’m not saying a generic podcast name is a bad idea. I just wanted you to be aware of the potential risks. Keep this stuff in mind — and consider reevaluating the podcast name as more people sign up.
3. Use trademark laws to lock in your rights.
As I covered in a recent blog post, "The best way to protect your trademarks is to get your trademark registered at the federal level. This U.S. registration gives you exclusive rights to your trademark across the United States." (Read the full post here.)
Like the successful podcasts I've mentioned above, at some point you'll want to secure registered trademarks to the names of your podcast, business name, and other online products and services.
Otherwise, you're really putting your business and your revenue in jeopardy. I don't have to tell you how crowded this podcast space is getting.
And I'd hate for you to run into legal issues because you failed to be proactive about this kind of thing sooner.
Securing trademark rights is critical to growing businesses. And while it might be best to hire a lawyer to assist you with the process, this is something you can do on your own with proper guidance.
Isn't time you legit OWNED your brand? After helping thousands of entrepreneurs on the legal side, I'm handing over my exact, step-by-step method for calling dibs on your trademarks (without needing to hire a lawyer) ... for FREE! Learn more here.