Fledgling food truck owners are often misguided when it comes to selecting names for their businesses. Sure, you want it to attract customers, but you don’t want it to attract lawsuits. Today we’ll share some basics about trademarking your mobile food truck name.
Trademarking Your Mobile Food Truck Name
Most vendors don’t consider competitors in the entire foodservice industry and identifying potential naming issues. Instead they often select their truck names based on their gut feelings. The mobile food industry is full of creative individuals that are looking to create the next great concept and name.
Therefore, choosing a name that doesn’t infringe on the rights of a third party and isn’t impossible to enforce against other potentially similar names is critical to creating a solid food truck concept capable of growth. In order to make an educated decision as to the name and trademark of your food truck, you will need to do some research.
Research before trademarking your mobile food truck name
A search of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark records is a good start point for your selection of an appropriate name for your food truck since it will help you to identify prior trademarks that have either been granted or denied registration through the USPTO. If there are any registered trademarks that are identical or might lead to consumer confusion with regard to your proposed name, you might be infringing the trademark of another.
Please Note: The test for trademark infringement does not require two names to be identical. Only confusingly similar to the consumer, so the spelling doesn’t need to be the same.
During your investigation, you may also notice that certain descriptive terms and geographic designations are less capable of trademark protection. This is because the underlying policy of the USPTO is not to prevent any business owners from using descriptive terms and names to describe their businesses.
For example, “Los Angeles Tacos” would more than likely be refused a trademark registration in connection with food truck services because “Tacos” is descriptive of the food and “Los Angeles” indicates the location.
This issue is prevalent in the restaurant industry and has spilled into the food truck arena. This is due to many food service businesses enjoy naming their restaurant or food truck with descriptive terms. These include terms such as Bar and Grill, Mediterranean Cuisine, Denver Steakhouse, etc.
Learn how to increase your chances of obtaining registration through the USPTO. Use fewer descriptive terms and geographic designations or considering a unique alternative such as making up a word.
Ask these questions
There are three points you must include in your initial trademark inquiry.
- Are there any existing trademark registrations that might prohibit you from using your proposed name?
- Is your proposed food truck name capable of registration with the USPTO? Make sure you are able to enforce and defend it?
There is one more point you must consider. There may be names and trademarks that are being used by other food trucks or restaurants that have not secured federal trademark registrations. These food service competitors have acquired common law rights through their use of the name, which is defined by limited geographic regions of use.
With this result, you may not have the priority to enter a region with your proposed name. By doing so, you risk infringing such common law trademark rights.
- Search Google. Find businesses that have not registered their trademarks through the USPTO but may still have common law rights in a similar name.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, making an educated decision for the name of a new mobile food business is not easy. Don’t get confused by the complicated details and analysis. We suggest, that unless you are an attorney yourself, the best way to fully understand the implications of trademarking your mobile food truck name and choosing an appropriate food truck name is to consult with an attorney who has a firm grasp of US trademark law.
We hope this article has shed some light on US trademark law. Use it as a starter guide and have an attorney determine if it applies to trademarking your mobile food truck name. Share your thoughts on this topic on social media. Facebook | Twitter
Disclaimer: This article is intended to be a general resource only. It is not intended to be nor does it constitute legal advice.