Can You Trademark That Unique Restaurant Name? Essential Tips and Tricks

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Opening a restaurant is more than just preparing mouth-watering dishes; it’s also about creating a unique and recognizable brand. If you’ve thought of a catchy restaurant name, the next logical step might be wondering: can you trademark a restaurant name?

The Importance of Trademarking Your Restaurant Name

Trademarking is not just for global chains with multiple locations; even a local ice cream shop or a food truck could benefit from the exclusive rights that a federally registered trademark offers. With the rising consumer awareness in the restaurant business, a distinctive name sets you apart from other restaurants and prevents consumer confusion.

Understanding the Trademark Basics

A trademark, as a part of intellectual property or IP, provides legal protection to logos, names, and other branding elements associated with your restaurant brand. It ensures that no other business in a similar domain or geographic area can use the same or a similar name, protecting your customer base and preserving your restaurant’s unique identity.

The Trademark Registration Process

  • Trademark Search: Before diving into the trademark application, conduct a comprehensive trademark search. This will help identify registered and pending trademarks that might conflict with your proposed name. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides tools for this, but for a more thorough search, consider hiring a trademark attorney.
  • Application: Once confident in the uniqueness of your restaurant name, initiate the trademark application through the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Application System. Detail the specific restaurant services you provide, and remember to include any logos or creative works associated with your restaurant.
  • Review by Examining Attorney: After submission, an examining attorney from the trademark office will review your application. They will assess the potential for consumer confusion with existing trademarks.
  • Approval and Publication: If the examining attorney finds no issues, your restaurant trademark application will be approved and published in the USPTO’s Official Gazette. This provides an opportunity for others to oppose the registration. If no oppositions are raised, your application moves forward.
  • Obtaining the Trademark: After the above steps, and provided no objections arise, the USPTO will grant you the trademark, giving your restaurant the right to use the registered trademark symbol (®).

Benefits of Trademarking Beyond Name Protection

While many restaurant owners seek trademarks primarily to protect their establishment’s name, the advantages of owning a registered trademark go beyond just this protective shield. Here are some of the broader benefits:

  • Credibility and Brand Image: A registered trademark is a testament to the world that you mean business. It signals professionalism and credibility. When customers see the registered trademark symbol (®) next to your restaurant’s name, it often instills a sense of trust and legitimacy, setting you apart in a saturated market.
  • Enhanced Value: In the world of business, intellectual property, including trademarks, can significantly enhance the value of a venture. Should you ever decide to sell, franchise, or license your restaurant, a registered trademark can increase its market value, making it more appealing to potential buyers or investors.
  • Legal Recourse: Owning a trademark is not just about preventing others from using a similar name; it’s also about having the upper hand legally. With a registered trademark, you have the exclusive right to take legal actions against any infringements. This ensures that you can protect your brand’s reputation and revenue without significant legal hindrances.
  • Public Awareness and Brand Loyalty: A trademarked name becomes synonymous with quality and service in the minds of customers. Over time, as your brand grows and delivers consistent experiences, this trademarked name can foster increased public awareness and loyalty. Customers will not only recognize your brand but will also associate it with certain standards and expectations.
  • Licensing Opportunities: A strong, trademarked brand can open doors to licensing opportunities. You might decide to branch out, allowing other entities to use your renowned restaurant name for other products or services. This can be a significant source of revenue, all while increasing your brand’s visibility and reach.
  • Deterrence: A registered trademark acts as a deterrent for potential infringers. When they see that a restaurant name is trademarked, most will steer clear from using anything similar, reducing the chances of conflicts and potential lawsuits.

Why Seek Professional Help?

With intricate nuances in trademark law, seeking an experienced trademark attorney or a trademark lawyer is advised. They can guide you in selecting a commercially viable name, help with the application process, and address any office actions or objections raised by the USPTO or other parties.

Common Law Trademarks Vs. Federally Registered Trademarks

Even without federal registration, a restaurant owner can acquire rights to a name through common law trademarks, based merely on the actual use of the name in business. However, common law rights are limited to the geographic area where the restaurant operates. For nationwide rights, especially if you plan to expand to additional locations or sell food products under your restaurant brand, a federal trademark is essential.

Considerations for Single Location Restaurants

For single location restaurants, the value of a trademark might seem minimal. However, as the business grows and gains customer awareness, the need for a recognizable brand becomes evident. Remember Shake Shack? What started as a single hot dog cart in New York is now a global brand, thanks in part to their early focus on branding and trademarking.

Closing Thoughts

Trademarking a restaurant name is an essential step in safeguarding your brand’s future. While the process might seem tedious, the peace of mind and protection it offers are invaluable. As the restaurant business becomes ever more competitive, standing out with a unique and recognizable brand will be your ace in the hole.

So, can you trademark that unique restaurant name? Absolutely. With the right guidance, adherence to the trademark process, and an understanding of trademark law, your restaurant’s name can shine uniquely in the culinary world.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles, and comments on do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinions and views of the author as of the time of publication.


Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles, and comments on do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinions and views of the author as of the time of publication.


USPTO Trademark Classes and Filing Fees: A Guide

Understanding USPTO Trademark Classes and Filing Fees: A Guide for Businesses Trademarks are divided into different classes of goods and services.  The types of goods and services a business provides