What’s in a Name? Protecting Your Goodwill through Trademarks

Unfortunately, not all ideas are patentable. A full analysis is well beyond the scope of this blog post, so we’ll use an example instead. Consider a new retail concept, such as a frozen yogurt shop. The owner may want protection and some sort of exclusivity in the business. However, the owner does not have any novel recipes or any new inventive manufacturing processes.

Without an invention for patent protection, can the owner protect his business?

Absolutely! The owner can protect, among other things, his goodwill built into his business name through trademark (subject to anyone’s trademark that already exists). Goodwill is a complicated legal term that we can also break down into a real-world example.

McDonald’s is a well-known fast food restaurant. When you go to McDonald’s, you expect a certain quality and speed of service and a certain quality of food. This consumer knowledge and expectation is the goodwill built into the business name. McDonald’s also has a trademark on the name “McDonald’s” in the fast food industry to protect this goodwill. Trademark protection deters other business owners from setting up shop under the McDonald’s name without approval. In turn, the trademark owner can police quality and consumer expectations related to the trademark.

How can the frozen yogurt shop owner go about protecting his business name with trademarks?

The simple answer is to file a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In fact, the business owner can file while setting the business up. All that is required is a bona fide intent to use the mark in commerce. Then, the business owner can file proof of actual use at a later date. Alternatively, the business owner can file proof of actual use up front, as long as the submission matches the goods or services described under the trademark.

If you need help with your patents, trademarks, copyright, or trade secrets, please contact us.

Jeremy I. Maynard
Registered U.S. Patent Attorney
Troutman & Napier, PLLC
4740 Firebrook Blvd.
Lexington, KY 40513
Tel: 859-253-0991
Web: Troutman & Napier, PLLC
Originally Published at: Maynard.Law
Originally Published by: Maynard.Law

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