The following is an edited transcript of my video Why Restaurants Need Trademark Protection.
I love restaurants for many reasons. I love a great meal, I love supporting small local businesses, and I have a connection to the restaurant industry: my wife and my brother-in-law own two restaurants. I’ve seen firsthand the power of protecting a restaurant brand. I’ve been blessed to work with filing more than 200 trademark applications for restaurant services. Everything from cheese steaks to sushi, to Korean barbecue, to food trucks, to diners, to ice cream. I get particular joy out of working with them because I know that so many of them are small businesses, local businesses, mom and pop businesses, family run businesses, and I take great pleasure and pride in working with those types of clients.
I’m fortunate because I get to work with ones who understand the value of protecting their name and registering it as a trademark. But many thousands of restaurants have not understood that value proposition. Most restaurants do not have registered trademarks. And they should, because a restaurant name is valuable just like any other brand name. The way people find the restaurant, the way people tell their friends about it, search for it online, or follow a social media page all revolves around the name of the restaurant.
Restaurants are frequently sold to investors or to new owners at some point. And having a protected name is an asset for that transaction and adds value to the business, because any future owner will know that it’s protected.
Restaurants are often copied or imitated, so protecting the restaurant name has value to make sure that if there is a knockoff, you have tools to deal with it more easily, more quickly, and cheaper.
In a world where so much of the communication is online, that makes protecting it even more important. If a restaurant has just one location in one geographic area and is online, and there’s another restaurant with an identical or very similar name in another area, people could get confused, see the wrong menu, find the wrong directions, follow the wrong Instagram account, you name it. And I have seen this happen with clients.
Protecting your trademark with a USPTO federal trademark registration gives you nationwide rights. And even for a local restaurant business, having nationwide rights can be very important for those reasons. When you put that all together, it’s a great investment for the restaurant. Yes, it’s an expense, but it’s an investment. It’s an investment of protecting the future, of enhancing the value of the brand and of the business.