I did a little digging around on trademarks today. Only about 15 minutes or so, but it was enough to make me think it was worth changing the spelling of my Next Big Thing's name.
I still don't fully understand - and don't much care - about the ins and outs of naming, and whether you can use a common word that someone else has registered, if you're in different sectors or countries. And because to me, with this project at least, the name is one of the least important things, I find it best to avoid the issue completely.
Startups face this problem all the time, but it's usually one borne out of a desire for a good, memorable domain name. Meegloo, which leapt out of the stalls late last year got its name through the same thought process.
But not everything has to hinge on the domain name. For much of its like, Basecamp lived at basecamphq.com, and even now if you visit basecamp.com you get redirected to the original. (This is true of only one of their four main products, however).
If, like Basecamp you're developing a service rather than, say, a social network, and especially if that service is paid for, users are probably going to bookmark it for easy reach, so as long as you don't call yourself theincredibllylongwindedandincongruouslyspeltwebservice.com, you're probably going to be fine.
That's true of my project. In its original name, most of the "power" domains were taken, and even if I put the word "go" infront of it, I still would have had to settle for the second-class .net suffix. Now, with a bit of spelling fu that actually serves in the product's favour - because the "mis"-spelling has a happy and useful double meaning relevant to my service - I've got a lot more choice.
It will however, necessitate a lot of find-and-replace throughout my small, but burgeoning code library. The good news is, however, that if I wanted to trademark the name, the road is clear.