As an IP attorney, you’re not a naming or branding expert. That is not your job. You did not go to law school to help people come up with names, or to learn how to predict whether or not a name will be commercially successful. Yet for whatever reason, clients sometimes want to treat you like the marketing person you’re not.
We've found that this is most likely to occur when you've just told a client that the name they've asked you to screen is not going to clear. In our experience, it's not uncommon for clients to jump straight into "desperate brainstorming" mode in this situation. We recommend that you interrupt this as gracefully as possible, then take steps to help them let go and move on. The primary goal here is to gently remind your clients that while you are here to help, your skillset is in evaluating the nuances of trademark law, and that's how your time is best spent.
If none of these messages are hitting home, here’s our recommendation: use an analogy. Ask your client if they would ever go to a podiatrist with a question about their sore throat, then wait a moment while they wonder where THAT came from. Next, politely explain to them that you’re not a professional namer, but that such people do exist. (If you’d like to pass along our contact information at this juncture, we certainly wouldn’t complain. ;) )
We namers like to think that we can make the lives of IP attorneys much more pleasant. It’s OUR job to evaluate the competitive landscape and brand position; brainstorm appropriately captivating names - taking into account brand architecture and the company’s plans for the future; pre-screen said names for trademark issues prior to sharing them with the client; and then help stakeholders narrow down the list. If all goes well, this makes your job more straightforward -- evaluate the chosen names to confirm that they pass trademark screening -- and then send them all back, and we'll help facilitate a decision.