When you're trying to name a brand, don't forget to check names your company might already have at its disposal.

A few months ago, McDonald's announced a new spin-off restaurant chain called CosMc’s. The lose-a-letter approach to brand-naming isn't our favorite, but in this case, it’s a great example of a company mining value from already-owned intellectual property (IP).

The CosMc name actually comes from an extraterrestrial character McDonald’s introduced back in the late 1980s. The alien doesn’t appear to be part of the new restaurant branding, but recently captured photos of a drive-thru menu show a galactic theme.

One of the biggest headaches when naming something is legal availability. The second biggest is the USPTO examiner claiming there would be a “likelihood of confusion” between your proposed name and the name of an already existing business.

Much of this risk can be avoided when a company takes time to evaluate existing/former IP at the beginning of a naming project. It's always part of the diagnostic phase when I'm naming something. This approach doesn’t really apply to startups, but larger, more established corporations can often own IP that employees aren't even aware of. I'd be willing to bet the original CosMc trademark is older than many members of MickeyD's marketing team.

In researching this, it was not only discovered that McDonald’s has eight new, pending trademarks for CosMc, but the original USPTO application included a storyboard from a 1987 Leo Burnett TV spot, announcing the arrival of CosMc. Had to share. Spoiler alert: CosMc is kind of a prick. Watch the spot here

Joe Nafziger