A trademark is a phrase, tagline, name, word or design -- or some combination of these elements -- that is unique. Registered trademarks are protected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and entities that misappropriate these marks can be subject to trademark infringement lawsuits. Many restaurant names are trademarked, often with a logo or image associated with the name to make the trademark more distinctive. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides a search engine that allows people to check and see if a trademark has already been registered.
Use the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Electronic Search Service to search for trademarks. To locate this page, visit the Patent and Trademark Office home page and click on "Search for Trademarks" in the top left corner of the page.
Check for restaurant names, using the Trademark Electronic Search System's Basic Word Mark Search. Add an asterisk around the search terms to search for common variations of the term. For example, the search term *gentlem* might return the words gentleman, gentlemen and other similar terms. You can search for both plural and singular versions of the term as well as both live and dead trademarks, but you should not add apostrophes to search terms.
Check for restaurant names associated with a design using the Word and/or Design Mark Search (structured version) to search for restaurant names that are associated with a design. In the "field" section of the search results, you can select specific search results you would like to see, such as the description of the mark or date trademarked. You can also select the option to see plural versions of the design mark.
Tips & Warnings
- The Trademark Electronic Search System also offers a free form version of the Word and/or Design Mark Search. While this search is useful for searching for a mark you intend to trademark, it is unlikely to be helpful if you are searching for a specific restaurant name.
- Trademarks are registered according to their purpose. For example, restaurant offerings might be registered in class 08 for foodstuffs. The registration class is returned with the search results.
- You normally cannot trademark something for which someone else owns the copyrights, even if the trademark is not registered. For example, a design created by a graphic designer cannot be registered as your trademark unless you own the rights.
References & Resources
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images