By Ryan Loose
Many owners new to the restaurant industry wonder how to copyright a name for their establishment. This is a common misnomer among restaurant owners. You actually can’t copyright a name. Copyrights cover logos, images, slogans, and graphics that are created as a part of your brand. To officially consider your restaurant’s name yours and yours alone you have to get a trademark. So, as a tie in to our post last week, here is how to register a restaurant name and have it legally protected.
Step 1 - You’ll first want to search to see if your restaurant’s name is already trademarked. This is actually pretty simple. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has an easy to navigate search database of all registered and pending trademarks that you can access from their homepage at http://www.uspto.gov/. You can also find a lot of good resources and instructional videos to help you in the filing process.
Step 2 - Once you’ve determined your restaurant’s name is eligible for trademark, you’ll next need to file your application either online via the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), or contact the trademark office at 800 786 9199 to request a print copy. You will also need to submit your application fee at this time, which can typically range from approximately $330 to $850.
Step 3 - Now, we play the waiting game. Your trademark application will first be assigned a trademark officer. This generally takes about 6 months, depending on the number of applications being processed. After the trademark officer has determined that your restaurant name is not in conflict with previous trademarks, you will next need to wait for the Notice of Opposition to pass. This is a 30 day period wherein anyone can contest your ownership of the name being trademarked, and request arbitration if necessary. After the 30 days have passed, the trademark will be issued.
Step 4 - Remember that your trademark is only valid in the United States. If you have restaurants under the same name in other countries, you will need to contact the appropriate government agencies for information on trademarking your restaurant’s name in those areas.