Have you ever considered trademarking the name of your restaurant? A trademark essentially protects your name, logo, slogan, symbol, or design from being used by your competitors. Trademarking your restaurant also helps create a unique and recognizable brand, which will improve customer awareness and attract new patrons. Finally, trademarking protects your company's name from being infringed upon by other businesses, which is particularly important for restaurants looking to franchise or open additional locations.
When it comes to trademarking your restaurant name, understanding the difference between trademark and copyright is a great place to start.
Trademarks are intended to identify and distinguish a business or its services from other companies. There are two different kinds of trademarks: registered and common law. Registered trademarks are officially registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and denoted with the ® symbol. Common law trademarks are not officially registered and are only protected within your town or city. These trademarks are denoted by ™, which essentially promotes or brands your goods.
Copyrights are used to protect original creative work like books, films, TV shows, or artwork. Copyrights prohibit others from reproducing or copying your work without permission, but cannot protect the ideas within. Essentially, a copyright gives you the ability to control how your work is used, distributed, performed, and displayed. As such, copyrighting is not applicable to trademarking a restaurant name.
While trademarking a restaurant name might not be applicable to a small town diner or local ice cream shop, trademarking becomes very important when a business is considering expanding their brand to multiple locations or franchising. However, single location restaurants may also want to look into trademarking their name if they are located in a high-density area or are frequented by out-of-town guests. When applying for a trademark, your restaurant must first prove that it could be commercially viable in areas beyond its current location.
The process of trademarking your restaurant name is relatively simple.
First, you'll want to figure out whether your proposed name is already trademarked by another business. To do so, visit the USPTO's database of all registered and pending trademarks and do a quick search for your name.
Next, you'll need to file your application online via the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) or call the USPTO and request a print copy. You will also need to submit an application fee, which usually ranges from $300-$900.
Finally, you'll play the waiting game for around six months. Then, there will be a 30 day period wherein other businesses can contest your ownership of the proposed name and request arbitration. If 30 days pass without a notice of opposition, your trademark will be issued.
At first glance, the process of trademarking a restaurant name may seem complicated and overwhelming. With a bit of background knowledge and a few pointers, however, any business owner will be able to easily trademark their name and begin building their brand. Trademarking your restaurant name will keep your competitors from using your business name or likeness, increase revenue, and allow you to make a name for your company.