The first thing many new restaurant owners want to do is to file a copyright on the name of their business. What they quickly learn is that a copyright is not what they need to file. The name of the restaurant actually requires a trademark rather than a copyright. A copyright is filed on any logos, graphics or slogans that are developed as part of the restaurant brand, but not on the name. The trademark is automatic for the first company to use the name in business, but there are advantages to registering the trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Here's how to register a trademark on the name of your restaurant.
How to Trademark a Restaurant Name
Determine if your restaurant is eligible for a "use based application". If your restaurant is already in business under the name you are registering, then you can claim ownership of the trademark name, if no one already owns it because you are already using the name in commerce. A declaration of use in commerce must accompany the trademark application. A sample of this declaration is included with the application form.
Search for existing 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.
File the trademark application. Submit the application for your restaurant's trademark online using the Trademark Electronic Application System, or contact the Trademark Assistance Center at (800) 786-9199 to request a printed application. The filing fee ranges from $330 to $850. See the website for a detailed schedule of fees.
Wait for your case to be assigned to a trademark officer. The length of the wait depends on the volume of trademark applications in the system. You can generally expect an application for a restaurant name to be assigned to a trademark officer in about six months, although it may take a little longer.
Wait until the Notice of Opposition has passed. After a trademark officer determines your restaurant name does not conflict with any previous trademarks, the application's status will be changed to Notice of Opposition. This is a 30-day period in which anyone can contest your ownership of the trademark and ask for arbitration. After 30 days are up, a trademark will be issued.
Register your trademark in any other countries where you have a restaurant or plan to have a restaurant in the future. Having your restaurant name registered as a trademark with the Patent Office is only valid in the United States. If you also have restaurant locations in other countries, you will need to register your restaurant name with the appropriate government office in that country as well.