It is not rare to find family-owned companies or companies named after their founding member’s surnames. The history of entrepreneurship in the United States shows a long list of business names and brands associated with the last name of a family or individual.
Are Florida citizens allowed to trademark their last names? Keep reading to find out.
Trademark Registration Process – The Fundamentals
A trademark is a name, symbol, logo, design, or a combination of these elements used to identify the source of goods or services and distinguish it from competitors. Long-lasting brands are always associated with strong trademarks, which demonstrates their importance in business.
Trademarks can be registered at the state or federal level. If you choose to register a trademark with the Florida Department of State, the protection is limited to the state’s boundaries.
Federal registration is available with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). In addition to nationwide protection, federal trademark owners have access to USPTO’s Trademark and Appeal Board (TTAB) in disputes involving trademark conflicts.
Can I Trademark My Last Name in Florida? – The Verdict
If a trademark is considered “primarily merely a surname,” it will likely be refused by USPTO examiners. In most cases, it is possible to trademark a last name neither at the state nor federal levels.
In a few circumstances, USPTO may allow an applicant to trademark a last name. To determine the eligibility of the applicant’s last name as a trademark, two questions must be answered:
- Is the applicant’s mark primarily a surname?
- Has the mark acquired distinctiveness?
The first step to trademarking your last name is to establish that the mark is not merely a surname. If consumers only recognize the mark as a surname, USPTO will refuse to approve the trademark registration.
It is not rare to find businesses that stood out from competitors while carrying the owner’s last name. In such cases, the trademark acquired distinctiveness with consumers, as they do not recognize the mark primarily as a surname.
As long as the mark has its own distinctiveness and consumers can distinguish it from a standard surname, USPTO may approve the trademark registration.
Can I Trademark My Last Name in Florida? – Taking a Closer Look
If a trademark used in business is actually a surname, it cannot be registered unless the owner proves it has acquired distinctiveness. USPTO considers several factors to determine whether an applicant’s mark is distinct, which are:
- The mark’s rarity
- Whether the mark is connected to the applicant
- Whether the mark has other recognized meanings
- The examiner’s viewpoint on structure and pronunciation
- Whether the mark features a distinctive design that differentiates it from a mere surname
It is crucial to pay attention to the mark’s recognized meaning. In essence, the purpose of a trademark is to help consumers identify the source of goods or services. Hence, trademarks heavily depend on the customers’ recognition.
Depending on the existence of additional elements (e.g., initials, combinations of multiple surnames, etc.), the primary public perception of the mark can change significantly.
If you want to trademark your last name, make sure to consult with an expert trademark attorney to identify the best route for an approval with USPTO.
Do You Want to Trademark Your Last Name in Florida? – Immediately Contact Jurado & Associates, P.A.
A well-versed attorney from Jurado & Associates, P.A. is willing to find a solution tailored to your case. Contact us today by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected] for an individual assessment.