If you are planning to franchise your business, owning trademarks that you can legally defend is essential to protecting your brand identity.
Registered trademarks play a significant role in the success of your franchise system, as they safeguard your intellectual property. Without trademarking, copycat businesses can take your ideas, pass them off as their own and profit from your creativity.
Because trademark law is highly complex, seeking out a business attorney with expertise in franchise system development and the protection of intellectual property rights is in your best interests.
What Are Trademarks?
The name of your business, the brand names, and logos you use, your tagline — any of these can be trademarks. With a few exceptions, any word, phrase or symbol that identifies the goods or services you provide and sets you apart from the competition can be trademarked.
Trademarking Your Franchise System
Many franchisors have several trademarks, but you may not be able to protect all your trademarks under the law.
Generic or descriptive names, such as “Computer Repair Service” and “Best Carpet Cleaners,” are difficult to trademark, as are names that include a location, like “Utah Beauty Shop.” Suggestive marks that imply something about the goods or services such as Greyhound and Citibank typically qualify for registration. Fanciful or made-up names, such as Xerox and Kleenex, and those that are arbitrary such as Apple for computers are typically the best suited for obtaining a federal trademark registration.
Trademark Registration for Legal Protection
For franchisors, federal registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is wise. Registration is not mandatory to franchise your concept; however, it will provide you with nationwide protection for your franchise system trademarks.
If you decide against registering, your FDD must include a disclaimer — and this inclusion could discourage potential franchisees.
Franchising and Intellectual Property Licensing
When you franchise your business, you grant a specific license to your franchises, allowing them to use your trademarks. Other types of license agreements such as distributor, dealer, and joint venture partnerships may also need to provide for trademark use. Licensing and providing for use of your trademark is a complex issue that should be handled by a business attorney with knowledge and experience in intellectual property, franchising, and licensing.
For expert advice and assistance on franchising your business and protecting your trademarks and other intellectual property, call on the award-winning Utah legal professionals at The Franchise & Business Law Group.
Our highly skilled business law attorneys have decades of experience helping franchisors, and we have a thorough understanding of the trademarking and licensing processes. Rest assured, we can protect your company and help you achieve your franchising goals.
For more information on The Franchise & Business Law Group, or to schedule a confidential business attorney consultation to discuss franchising and trademark registration, contact our Salt Lake City, Utah, office today.