Of course, before I started, I checked for other publishers with similar names and changed my original choice (Artefact Books) because there was already something like it in US.
I then went ahead and published my first book, registered under my imprint, and with this name printed on the cover and the text inside. I set up a personal website (this one) but I didn't upload a separate site for my imprint because at this stage I'm only publishing myself (though of course this may change) and I didn't want to be accused of trying to pretend I was published by an established press.
So imagine my surprise when, a few days ago, I received an email from a friend in US, saying she'd been looking at the Standing Stone Press website! I googled it and sure enough, there it was, Standing Stone Press, an imprint of Ridley Park Books, offering a self-publishing service to authors.
At first I thought it was some sort of sick joke. There is strong feeling against independent authors by a few people, maybe even strong enough for something like that. But a quick investigation revealed that the domain name had been registered over a year ago, though it seems the site was uploaded very recently. Needless to say, I was more than a little concerned. Not only would potential readers be likely to see this site and assume I had published with this press, but being a self-publishing service, it was likely there would be little if any quality control.
However, I assumed that, although a very basic website had been uploaded, the chances were, no books had been published as yet, because surely Nielsen (the UK ISBN agency) and Bowker (its US counterpart) wouldn't register two publishers with the same name. I emailed Nielsen and told them of my concerns and waited for their reassurance.
But this is what I was told. Nielsen and Bowker link to one anothers' registered books and Nielsen had no record of another Standing Stone Press when I registered. However, they allow more than one publisher to register with the same name, distinguishing their accounts by country or city.
So if you happily register your long-awaited autobiography to Joe Blogs Books, thinking this will somehow make it unique, think again. Tomorrow, an unlimited number of publishers calling themselves Joe Blogs Books may appear. Otherwise, it seems you would have to somehow register or copyright your name as a brand (I believe Paul McCartney has done this) to prevent others from using it.
In the light of all this, I've hastily secured a domain name and uploaded my own imprint site. It will probably need tweaking and should be picked up by google in a few days time.