Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wants Help With Knife Company Trademark

Dear Rich: We are two artisan knife makers in Michigan and we've been getting so many orders that we think we're ready to quit our day jobs and go into full-time production. We wanted to call our company Flint Knife Works but someone told us that it's harder to get a trademark if it includes the name of a city. We haven't officially started up so what's the story? The short story is that we think you might want to come up with another name for your company. Here's the long story:
Already in use ... There already appears to be a company called Flint Knife Company so you're likely to confuse customers of this company and that could give rise to a claim of infringement. There also appears to be an organization called the Flint River Knife Club which has a registered trademark. More possible confusion.
Is it descriptive? Even if these organizations were not around, the name might pose a challenge for registration. It's possible that an examiner may object to the application on the basis that the mark is descriptive. That is, the trademark describes some feature or quality of the goods and services -- in this case, that flint and knives are often sold together. A descriptive mark for goods being sold in commerce can still be registered at the USPTO (and this article provides more information) but a descriptive mark cannot be registered as an intent-to-use registration (where the mark is reserved). An examiner might also object to the mark as being geographically descriptive, as explained in this article. For all these reasons, we think you should reconsider your choice of knife company name (and good luck with your venture).

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