Building a successful business requires carving out a niche for your brand within your market. This can be very difficult in highly competitive market sectors, especially when it comes to food products and food items. If you are building any food-based business or plan to sell a new food product, navigating the trademark process for your products can be very difficult. You cannot directly trademark food items. However, you can trademark a special food item unique to other food items on the market.
If you are interested in securing a food trademark, contact our office. We can help you with the trademark application process and the various steps you will need to complete to secure the trademark you desire. An experienced food trademark lawyer can be a valuable asset in this situation. While it is possible to file a trademark application on your own, you are much more likely to secure your desired trademark when you have legal counsel assisting you with your trademark application.
If you are trying to secure any type of food item trademark, you must first ensure that your food item is unique and can be distinguished from other products on the market. For example, you could not trademark “hamburger” as it is too generic. However, Burger King has trademarked the Whopper, and McDonald’s has trademarked the Big Mac. Both of these food items technically qualify as hamburgers, but they are unique food items only available from their respective trademark owners’ businesses.
The first step in securing your food item trademark is defining the unique properties of your item. You must also think of a unique name for your item that will differentiate it from other products on the market. If your desired trademark is too similar to an existing trademark, it can cause complications. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will deny your application, causing you to effectively restart the entire application process from square one.
The USPTO’s regulations can be difficult to navigate on your own, and this is why it is vital to work with an experienced trademark attorney as you work toward securing the intellectual property rights you need for your brand.
When you want to trademark your food item, remember that you are not exactly trademarking the food itself. A trademark is a name, slogan, logo, design, or symbol that defines a product or a business and its products. For example, if you plan to sell energy bars, you cannot trademark “energy bar” because there are already thousands of companies producing and selling energy bars. You would trademark the unique name of your energy bar.
Additionally, it’s important to remember what a trademark protects. Your energy bar may be entirely unique among other energy bars on the market due to the recipe you use to produce it. However, your trademark protects the brand image of the energy bar, such as the product’s name and package design that separates it from other similar products on the shelf. You can secure further protection for your energy bar’s recipe by establishing trade secret protection for your recipe, but this is an entirely separate area of intellectual property law from trademark law.
If you want the best chance of securing the food trademark you desire for your business, it’s best to work with an experienced trademark attorney. You must complete several steps to secure your trademark, and navigating these stages of the process alone is very arduous and likely to fail.
The first thing you will need to do is complete a trademark search. This is a process of reviewing the database of registered trademarks to search for any that may conflict with your desired mark. The USPTO offers a searchable online database you can use to perform trademark searches, but many people find it difficult to use and obtain accurate results.
An experienced trademark attorney will have access to third-party trademark search tools that the average person cannot use on their own. These search tools can enable a more robust and accurate trademark search process. Once you have performed your search and determined that your desired trademark should be available for you to register, your attorney will help you complete the application process.
One of the most challenging aspects of the trademark application process is the trademark specimen. You must provide the USPTO with an example of how you intend to use your desired trademark. For example, if you are registering a food item, you may submit an example of the packaging you intend to use to sell the product. The USPTO will assess your specimen to ensure it does not conflict with existing trademarks.
After completing your trademark application and submitting the necessary specimens to the USPTO, the USPTO will assign an examining attorney to your case. This attorney is responsible for ensuring your desired trademark is valid and does not conflict with or infringe upon any existing similar marks. If the examining attorney determines that everything is in order with your application, they will notify you of your approval; your pending trademark will be published in the USPTO’s Official Gazette. This provides an opportunity for other parties to see pending trademarks and file disputes against them.
In the event any other party disputes your pending mark, your trademark attorney can help you address the situation. You may need to provide the USPTO with additional evidence showing your mark is unique and the dispute is unfounded. Your attorney can also provide ongoing assistance in the future if any other party attempts to infringe upon your trademark or if you need to file additional trademarks for new food products.
Four Reasons Legal specializes in intellectual property law, and our team has helped many clients secure the trademarks and other intellectual property protection they need to advance their businesses. If you are interested in filing an application to trademark a food product, find experienced legal help. It is a very difficult area of trademark law, and you benefit greatly by having an experienced attorney assist you with the application process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to learn more about how we can assist you with your food trademark.