Surnames can be registered as trademarks if …

Names are not always the best option for a trademark – it can be difficult to prove the name has acquired distinctiveness as a trademark.  For example, some of L.L. Bean’s wordmarks were in use 35 and 57 years before they were registered.  However, in Bruce Schlafly v. St. Louis Brewery the Federal Circuit did acknowledge that “[n]o law or precedent suggests that surnames cannot be registered as trademarks if they have acquired distinctiveness in trademark use.”  But it’s not easy – the St. Louis Brewery was able to register SCHLAFLY – with sales of 75 million beers, media coverage in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, and more than 25 years of continuous use.

© 2015-2022 Santa Fe IP, LLC. All rights reserved.