Can you patent trademark a food truck’s name? In fact, you can! Just like any other type of business you can acquire a trademark to protect your brand and its likeness.
There are all kinds of reasons that you may want to register for a trademark, but the primary reason for many includes protecting your brand against other companies entering the space that may confuse customer or too closely resembles your business name. Imagine how frustrating it would be if someone in your city started a food truck with a nearly identical name, logo, and menu that was so close that your customers actually became confused between the original and the knock off. This is the type of bad scenario a trademark can help protect you from.
Should My Food Truck File?
Of course, most food trucks never file for a trademark at all and get along just fine. Whether or not you decide to file for a trademark depends on your goals. If you plan to operate a single food truck, there’s probably no need. Especially if you plan to start a truck that targets consumers based around convince like a lunch truck, where brand recognition isn’t important this is a step you can forgo in the startup process.
One the other hand, if your goal is to use a food truck as a proof of concept for launching a nationally recognized brand than by all means, now is the time to start the filing process. You’ll want to ensure you have a trademark and name in place before going further down the path of developing logos and other branding.
There are a couple different options you have when filing for a trademark. You can acquire a trademark at the state level, which will protect your brand within the borders of your state within the United States. These state level trademarks are often easier to obtain and cost around $100 – $200 according to LegalZoom.com. You can obtain a federal trademark to protect your brand nationally for between $275 – $375. After acquiring the trademark there’s a small ongoing fee required to keep these active. After you obtain the designation, a trademark will never expire assuming you continue to pay the annual fees.
Filing For a Trademark
Before you file for a trademark or even select a name for your food truck for that matter, it’s important to conduct basic due diligence on your end to make sure the business name you want isn’t already being used elsewhere. There are a lot of creative people out there and you might be surprised to discover there’s another business already operating under your name a few states over.
The first step you should take before beginning to file is to conduct a few Google searches for your desired brand name. This will help you identify if there’s anyone else that’s operating a business under the same name as you. Assuming you find what appears to be a medium to large size business operating under the name, it’s better to pass on the brilliant name idea and get back to the drawing board. If you have questions about whether or not another businesses name is too close and you’re in love with the name, now would be the time to contact an attorney that specializes in trademark and patent law. If you live in a metro area of any type, you will be at to find an attorney nearby that focuses on this area of law.
Assuming there’s nothing that turns of online from your searches, great! It’s time to take the next step in your trademark search by visiting the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. Here you’ll be able to search a database of existing trademarks to see if your name is already taken. This service is free and competing this step is highly recommended before taking any further action to file.
Another important factor to keep in mind is that even if you identify a name that hasn’t been taken, you may not be able to register the name for a trademark. If you try to file for a trademark under the name “Boston Burgers” the filing probably won’t be approved because it can be easily confused with the city of Boston.
Bottom line, before you file it’s recommended to schedule a 30 minute or one hour initial conversation with a patent lawyer. This will cost you more money, but these professionals can help answer your questions and give you a good sense of whether or not your filing will be approved.
Ready to File?
If you’re ready to file you can do so by following the steps outlined here. There’s also an extremely helpful 41 minute video below that highlights what every small business should know now, not later when filing for a trademark. This is worth watching first to educate yourself further about trademarks and help you determine if it’s the right choice for your business.
We hope this article has helped give you some background information about the trademark process and some basic considerations. If you have questions about the process, contact an attorney that specializes in patent law for guidance. If you’re looking for more help naming a food truck, read our previously published blog post for more information.