8 Brand Protection & Trade Marking Tips for Culinary Creators

Written in

June 5, 2024

Mo Abbas, co-founder of Trademark Brothers, offers 8 tips to navigate the branding maze as a new food or drink startup.

Navigating the branding maze as a new food, drink or restaurant startup can be daunting, especially when it comes to protecting your unique products, recipes and identity. We have outlined 8 essential tips for protecting your brand effectively through the power of trade marking:

1. Start With a Creative Name

The most important element begins with choosing a unique and memorable name, which is arguably the most difficult step, but is the essential first step in distinguishing your brand from many others on the marketplace. Avoid generic or descriptive terms; instead, opt for suggestive names that evoke a sense of your product without directly describing it. When considering registering a trade mark, a name needs to be distinctive and not descriptive of the goods and services you are looking to register, so think out of the box!

Additionally, try not to get emotionally attached to the name you have in mind so that if a trade mark search is conducted and the name has been taken or is deemed as high-risk then you can easily move away from it and think about backup names without an issue.

2. Do Your Homework

Before you fall in love with a name, logo, or slogan, make sure it's actually available. We can provide you with a full search of the trade mark register along with a risk report, highlighting pre-existing marks that could be an issue.

We recommend having a few options at the ready just in case the intended business asset is seen as high-risk. Of course, you can proceed with the high-risk name and get lucky, or instead not get lucky and face an uphill struggle in terms of costs and time in trying to get it over the line.

3. Think Beyond the Logo

While logos are critical, remember to trade mark your taglines, product names, and any other distinctive phrases associated with your brand. This comprehensive approach ensures all facets of your identity are protected from potential infringers.

We tend to recommend our clients to secure the word mark in no stylisation or format whatsoever so that it gives them the best type of protection they can get. Once that is protected, we would then recommend protecting any other assets that their business possesses. This is due to the fact that at the early stage of your business you may end up changing the logo very quickly and therefore the initial registration of the first logo may be deemed redundant.

4. Protect the Recipe, Not Just the Name

For food and drink brands, the secret is often in the recipe. While recipes themselves can’t be trade marked, the name of a signature dish or drink can be. Secure a trade mark for any unique product names to prevent others from capitalising on your culinary creativity.

As an example, if you had a sauce/condiment and called it "Chile Crunch", you may want to protect this as it might be a major asset for you, but don't be Momofuku!

5. Register Sooner Rather Than Later

The trade mark process can be lengthy, taking anywhere from three to six months or up to several years depending on the jurisdiction you are filing in. Filing early can help you avoid the headache of rebranding if a conflict arises after you’ve already invested in your brand identity. Early registration also puts potential competitors on notice of your trade mark rights.

6. Consider International Protection

Trade marks are territorial, which means you will only be protected in the country you register in. If you plan on selling your products overseas, consider securing protection in those countries as well. Each country has its own set of laws and registration systems, we can help you to navigate this process and streamline it so it's easier to understand.

Worth noting that at the outset it may be an additional cost, but it is for 10 years worth of registration and if you really believe you will be exporting, then you have to consider international protection to preserve any goodwill you believe you will be creating in your brand.

7. Enforce Your Rights

Obtaining a trade mark isn’t the end of the journey—it’s just the beginning. Monitor the market for any potential infringements and be prepared to enforce your rights. This might involve sending cease and desist letters or pursuing litigation if necessary.

8. Keep Your Trade Marks Alive

Trade marks last for 10 years, so make sure to file the necessary renewals and show proof of continuous use (for the USA) to keep your registrations active. With Trademark Brothers as your trade mark protectors, we can keep you up to date and help get your renewal applications in on time to make sure there is no lapse in protection.

By following these tips, you can secure your brand and safeguard your market position. Remember, your brand is your reputation and protecting it through proper trade marking is an investment worth making!

Fancy talking to us about this important aspect of your business that you haven't quite looked at yet? Or just want to look into what protection you do have and what it means and how you can bolster and strengthen your portfolio, then get in touch with us today for a 20 minute free consultation through https://www.trademarkbrothers.com/trademark-application.