Last year, the patent office received around 8,500 applications for a name change. That is about 2,200 more than the agency got ten years ago.
While most people want to change their first names, around 20 percent of applicants are looking for new family names. The sky’s pretty much the limit when it comes to what people can choose, although there are a few restrictions, according to Patrik Rönnqvist, a department head at the patent office.
“For example, the new name shouldn’t be mistaken or confused for a name that already exists,” he told the TT news agency. In addition, the new name shouldn’t be so strange or unusual that it can lead to social rejection or unpleasantness for the person who has it.
And, there shouldn’t be any possible confusion with a protected trademark or company name. So, “Microsoft” is probably out.
Rönnqvist said it was hard to detect a strong trend among choices for new names, but said that a lot of people like names that have words like frost, fall or moon in them.
“We see that nature plays a big role in creating a new last name,” he said. “It can be anything from having a connection with a particular place or some kind of feeling inside a person.”
One family which applied for a new last name in 2014 was the Lyckerev family. When Niklas and Catrin got married, neither was ready to take on their partner’s last name, and they thought it would be a good idea create a new name for the new family.
“Both of us thought it was important that the family had a common last name,” Niklas Lyckerev said.
The name they chose is a combination that reflects both partners’ lives. “Lycke” comes from Catrin’s relatives who left Norway to settle in Sweden. The final part, “rev”, is from the area where Niklas grew up, near Revsundssjön.
But both Carin and Niklas warned that it can take some time to get used to a brand-new name.
“The first three months were really hard,” Catrin said. “I didn’t even react when someone would call me by it. But now it’s settled in.”
For Niklas, he needed about a year to tell all of his friends, acquaintances and business colleagues about the change.
There was some protest in the family at first. The oldest son, who was eight when Lyckerev was created, didn’t like it at all at the beginning.
“He was very negative and said he was going to change his name back when he turned 18,” Catrin said. “But that’s not the case now.”