Trademark Registration for Wine Brands: Raise a Glass to Yourself
As with any other product, a trademark registration for a wine or winery name, logo, or other brand identifier should be sought from the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as soon as the name or brand is conceived in order to lay first claim to the trademark rights.
Even if the product line or business is not quite ready yet for public launch, an "intent-to-use" application can be filed to start the year-long registration process rolling, sound out any registrability issues from the standpoint of the USPTO or third-party mark owners, and to generally make the first public record of your use of the name.
Wine Brand Trademark Registration: First Use in Commerce
This "first use" concept is important with regard to Federal trademark registration because the United States is a "first use" jurisdiction.
This means that the entitlement to Federal trademark protection belongs to those that have first used a mark in interstate commerce (i.e., first old it across state lines). This is as opposed to entitlement belonging to those that have simply first filed an application for trademark registration.
Therefore, it is to your benefit to have the official record of when you first used the mark in interstate commerce etched in stone with a public application filing as soon as possible—even if you haven't yet begun to use it.
Of course, filing the application lickety-split will do you little good if you are not actually the first to use the mark in commerce.
Therefore, the first step of the application process is to retain a trademark lawyer to run a full and proper clearance search.
Wine Brand Trademark Registration: Pre-Filing Clearance Search
Although one can file an application without a full pre-filing clearance search, it is foolish to proceed with out it.
To sum it up, however: a full clearance search is a search conducted by your trademark attorney, usually utilizing a professional third-party search service, which scours not only the Federal trademark registry database but also each individual state's trademark database, social media, web domains, business registries—and more.
The clearance search will alert the prospective winery trademark applicant of the existence of registered trademarks that may pose a risk to the success of the application, possible sources of infringement accusation, and prior business uses of the name which may represent a prior first use in commerce regardless of whether registered as a trademark or not. (Such going concerns will pose an ever-present risk of a future cancellation proceeding even if you do register your mark first.)
The trademark clearance search is always money well spent.
Wine Brand Trademark Registration: The Application
A trademark attorney will draft your application to accurately capture the full scope of the wine brand that you intend to protect with your trademark registration.
It is important to remember that each trademark registered identifies a discrete product or service. It is not something that broadly protects the name or logo in every instance of use.
For example, if I register a trademark for the name of a new brand of pinot grigio, that same trademark will not also protect the brand of syrah that I next produce—unless I have draft my application broadly enough to encompass any sort of wine produced by my winery.
However, draft the description too broadly and you increase the odds of a USPTO "office action" refusal of your application because you are increasing the field of products or services you are intended to occupy with that mark.
In other words, the application process recommends a trademark lawyer's experience and expertise, even it is not procedurally "required."
You'll need a lawyer to properly advise as to what sort of specimen to attach to the application as well as to help advise as to the ownership of the mark (you personally vs. your corporate entity) and the legality of use of the mark after registration.
Once the application is filed, your trademark attorney will monitor its progress, respond to any informal requests for amendment by the USPTO attorney examiner assigned to the file, and consult with you as to your willingness to respond to any office action refusal filed by the attorney examiner.
Wine Brand Trademark Registration: After Registration
After the clearance search, the drafting and filing of the trademark application, and the resolution of any Office Action refusals or other opposition filings in the post-examination "Publication Period," the trademark is registered, either on the Principal or Supplemental Trademark Registers of the USPTO.
Once the mark for your wine brand or logo is fully registered, that is not the end of the tale.
At regular intervals, you must continually prove to the USPTO that you are still utilizing the mark in interstate commerce by filing something called a Statement of Use and/or a Declaration of Incontestability.
Failure to do so will result in the mark being declared "Abandoned." This means that you will lose the right to use it.
Thus, the need for an experienced trademark attorney at your side continues onward, post-registration.
Detroit Michigan Trademark Attorney: The Bottom Line Regarding Trademarking Your Wine or Winery Brand
The bottom line is that with regard to trademark protection of your wine or winery name or log, it doesn't pay to go cheap after investing all of your resources and time into the development of the product itself. You may have concocted the most delicious liquid ever, but, if you can't market it properly because it is either ripped off or it sinks beneath a wave of copycat competitors, it won't pay off for you.
Retain a trademark attorney such as Attorney John Hilla to assist you with your search and your application to ensure the best results.
Attorney Hilla's trademark practice is national, and he represents clients for trademark matters anywhere in the United States and beyond.
Contact Us Here to schedule an initial consultation appointment at no charge to discuss your trademark needs.