Just about everyone has heard the term “trademark” before. And while it may have originally been intended to refer to brands, products, or services in the business world, its meaning has been adopted by everyday speech as a descriptor for simple attributes. When we hear “this” is a trademark of something, we immediately understand the implication of ownership. We assume that whatever “it” is, it must be as official as it can get. There is a sense of authority. And when it comes to your food business, this is exactly what you want for your brand.
Reasons to Trademark Your Food Product
A trademark is a distinctive mark or feature (usually a logo) that identifies one brand from another. Most would probably agree that every brand needs a logo – even if that’s as simple as a company name spelled out. This is a way for your potential customers to identify your food product. Eventually, these customers may prefer your product to others, recommend it to friends, and hopefully become long-term customers loyal to your brand.
Protection of Property
Your food product is exactly that – yours. There are so many competitors in the food industry. This is arguably the most competitive landscape of any industry because it is subject to a persons everchanging moods in deciding what to eat next. You may produce all natural, organic blue corn tortilla chips sold in local grocery stores. Rest assured there will be others who make the same product with the same all natural, organic ingredients. For this reason, you must trademark your food product so that your unique recipe stays unique and so that your hard earned success is yours and no one elses.
You don’t want someone else to beat you to the punch on trademarking a recipe, package, logo, or finished product . At the end of the day, the product you sell is your brand more than anything else.
Now that your brand is established, your food product is a favorite, and you have a leg up on competitors coming close to your one-of-a-kind recipe, you need to maintain course while increasing sales growth. If you should do this successfully over time, your trademarked brand will increase in value. The trademark you have on your product and its reputation in the market will carry a new financial implications. Based on your success, you will have a nice and favorable price tag on your trademark should you ever wish to sell it. For some perspective, Coca Cola was valued as the 3rd most valuable in the world in 2016 at $73.1 billion.
Careful What You Say
Trademarks are a great method of ownership and protection for your brand but just having one doesn’t mean you can lock down a specific phrase and identity for your food product; especially when it comes to packaging and labeling. For example, a company that uses organic ingredients for the seasoning of their brand of chips but the chips themselves are not purely organic by FDA standards. If this brand has trademarked a phrase as a tagline which insinuates that it’s an organic product, this brand may run into problems and be found non-compliant with actual organic standards. This could be an example of misbranding and could result in a slew of legal issues.
Very often, brands do not have the right to use a trademark on a product label. It’s important to do your research ahead of time to find out if there’s a more strategic phrase or label for you to trademark. It may be as simple as changing a word or two but make sure you know before you get the trademark and go to print on the labels to save yourself a compliance headache.
Here at The Food Law Firm, our Trademark Consultation provides you with all of the steps you need from research of an appropriate and available trademark, to drafting a memorandum of availability (MOA) to filing the mark and monitoring it after it is submitted – our years of experience will make the entire Trademark process simpler for your food business. Contact us today to learn more about our food trademark services.