Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Family Named Business Can't Always Use Family Name

Dear Rich: Our family has had a restaurant business since 2003 and recently we got a letter from a large chain asking us to change it because their lawyers say it is too similar to the chain's trademark. I don't know how they found out about us. We're a pretty small operation. Can they really make us change our restaurant's name? We're sorry to report that -- depending on the circumstances -- you may have to change your name. We've written an article on the subject of family names as trademarks so check that out, first. Assuming the chain has been using the name longer than you have, the wisest course is for you to hire a business lawyer to determine your response.
P.S. Speaking of restaurants, here's an adventurous desert we recently ordered at our local seafood shack -- Chocolate ganache wrapped in filo topped off with peanut butter sauce and hot fudge. It was great!