What’s in a name?!  Apparently, everything!  When a business owner is trying to think of the name of his/her company, there’s a lot of thought that goes into it.  You want it memorable, relative to your product and maybe even something personal.  So in 1998 when I decided to start my own entertainment business, I was brainstorming for ideas.  It was on a road trip up to Boone, NC when I looked up at the approaching Appalachian mountain range and my wife said “Summit Entertainment”.  It was perfect!  We both had gone to Appalachian State University, and the phrase “You can’t get higher than the Summit” still spills out of my mouth sometimes while doing sales pitches in trade show booths.  Yeah, I know that sounds completely cheesy, but if you know anything about trade shows, you get tired of saying the same sales pitch over and over and over.

And so it began.  Summit Entertainment was born.  I knew there were not any comedy agencies in the country with a competing name so I went to downtown Charlotte to register my company name.  Back in 1998 the internet wasn’t where you’d go yet to search any competing company names.  The internet was pretty fresh and new!  I did register the website domain www.summitentertainment.com and began my comedy business!

Within a year from my start up, I did discover that there was another company named “Summit Entertainment” on the west coast that was a movie production company that had started a few years before my company.  I didn’t think too much of it since they did movies, I sold jokes.  I don’t think anyone was confusing the 2 of us, until…..

After a few years I started getting emails sent to me that was clearly for the “Summit Entertainment” movie company.  I would kindly reply, telling them they had the wrong company every time and went about my own business.  Sometimes I would forward the emails to the other company as well just to be nice as I started getting more and more of them.  Note to reader: *being nice in “business” doesn’t always help you unfortunately. One day I got an email that said “Final Script: ‘The Mexican’ starring Brad Pitt & Julia Roberts”.  I thought it was funny that I would be getting this one, but I still forwarded it on to the appropriate business.  Within a week of that email I had a Cease & Desist letter from their lawyer.  After all, we had the EXACT same company name, and a very similar mountain range logo who my buddy Jeff Katowitz had designed.  My lawyer said I could fight them in court, but I would probably lose since they had the name registered first.

Now here’s where the biggest error I’ve ever made in my business thus far.  I sold them the website domain www.summitentertainment.com  I did get a decent about of money for it back in 2001, but this was before this company hit it BIG!  How big, well, let’s just tell you that Summit Entertainment went on to produce many movies as well as the entire “TWILIGHT” Vampire movie series.  I still kick myself every time I see their logo pop up, knowing that I could have held on to that domain longer and asked for a much bigger price tag.  In 2012 Lionsgate Films acquired Summit Entertainment for $412.5 million. You live and you learn I guess!  That’s the nature of business!

I incorporated my business in 2001, changed my company to Summit Comedy, Inc. and I’m waiting for someone to offer me $412.5 million for it.  No takers yet, so I’ll continue to sell jokes to masses.  Good thing I LOVE what I do for a living!  Someone once said, if you love what you do for a living, you’ll never work a day in your life!  I haven’t “worked” in 22 years! 😉

-Chuck Johnson
President; Summit Comedy, Inc.