Registering your restaurant's name under trademark law is vital to protect the business identity. The symbols TM and SM on the restaurant's logo show that the owner has obtained a trademark or service mark from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A restaurateur may apply for federal registration in two ways: through a "use" application, if the trademark is already used in commerce; or through an "intent-to-use" application, if the trademark will be used in interstate or international commerce. Applicants should generally allow a minimum of 12 to 18 months for registering a trademark.
What You Need
Name of the restaurateur
Address of the restaurateur
Specimen of the trademark
Step 1 Search for existing restaurant trademarks. You will save both time and money if you search before you apply for a trademark on your restaurant name. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website has a searchable database trademarks and trademark applications.
Step 2 Trademark your restaurant's name and logo with your state. To register a mark in your state, contact the state secretary's office. State applications generally cost less than federal trademark registration and take less time for processing. Remember that state trademark registration only protects your mark within that state and that federal registration usually supersedes state registration claims.
Step 3 Register your name under federal law with the USPTO in Arlington, VA. The PTO has more requirements than registering at the state level, so you can hire a trademark attorney to file a trademark application, evaluate a trademark search or trademark a product name. To obtain an application, call the PTO at (800) 786-9199 or visit its website at www.uspto.gov to download one. The federal trademark registration will cost several hundred dollars and could take more than a year to process.
Step 4 Your trademark has to pass the Notice of Opposition. This is a 30-day period process in which anyone can contest your ownership of the trademark and ask for adjudication. After 30 days, trademark will be issued.
Step 5 Register your restaurant trademark in other countries where you plan to have a restaurant in the future. Registration of trademark with the Patent Office is only valid in the U.S. If you are a global player, then you will need to register your restaurant name with the appropriate government office in that country.
Step 6 Monitor possible infringements. Once you register your restaurant trademarks, you must further protect restaurant's name by monitoring potential infringements.
Step 7 You can frequently surf the internet for references and also encourage customers, franchisees and employees to report infringements to you.
Tips and Warnings
- Filing a trademark or a patent can be expensive, when done through an attorney. It can be done by you using legal website like the "Do-it-Yourself Patent and Trademark".
- World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) which oversees the task of international registration of trademarks through Madrid System.
- Never fail to implement a policing mechanism that will track your company's trademark to discover possible online infringements.
- Be aware that applying for a copyright won't protect you, because ideas can't be copyrighted.