The name you give your restaurant plays an important role in the brand’s overall perception and growth: it’s the first element to represent your business in front of new customers.
In order to make a good first impression, you must select a name that defines your business, is memorable (so it will be stuck in people’s minds), and has a unique zing to it. This can’t be an easy task, especially considering the level of diversity and richness in the restaurant and food industry.
As such, once you manage to find the perfect name for your restaurant, you may want to protect it with a trademark. The process of trademarking a name or a logo can be rather complex so speaking with an attorney specialized in trademarks should be the first order of business.. According to LegalZoom, the process usually takes several months. If you want to do this by yourself or you want to learn more about the required steps, here's more information.
Compile the Most Important Information
Before you file a trademark application for the restaurant name you selected, you must have several important information such as:
The sign, or in this case, the name;
- Goods and services for which you want the name to be protected (for instance, Levi is protected for clothing). Here it’s important to mention that all the goods and services are categorized in classes, so you will need to identify the right ones for your niche.
- Applicant’s information, which is the name and address of the company that will own the trademark.
Make Sure the Name is Unique
In order to be able to register the name as a trademark, you must make sure no other company has already done so. For this, access the US Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) and search for an identical or similar mark in the categories of goods and services for which you want to register.
According to the U.S. regulations, protection of the trademark is granted to the first company to use the sign (whether registered or not), but only in the geographic area where it operates. This means that other companies can use it if they are in a different area.
However, if the name (in exact or a similar form) is already registered as a trademark in the same category of goods and services, your application will be rejected.
Submit the Registration
Once you have all the necessary information and made sure the name is not already registered, you can apply for a trademark online. For this, go to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and look for the Apply Online section.
Here you can learn about the process, the fees, and how long it will take for the registration to be processed.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you are sure the name is unique and there are no complications with the owner’s information, then you should be able to do the registration online, without any extra help. However, if the search returns a similar mark to the one you want or if the name you want can be easily confused with another trademark (BMW vs PMW for instance) you should consider proceeding with an attorney.
The same is recommended if you want to register a name that can be considered too descriptive or generic such as “The Ice Cream Shop." A specialist in patents or intellectual property laws could help you get some form of protection for it, but the process is more complicated.
As the business grows and the brand gets more popular, the name will be more valuable to you and your entire activity in the niche. So, it pays to make sure it is well-protected from the start.