Trademarking Your Blog Name

  • How to Trademark Your Blog Name | tablefortwoblog.com

    Last Thursday, I got an email from my trademark attorney saying that ‘Table for Two’ was officially a registered mark. It took about 8 months from start to finish, but it was well-worth it. Since then, a bunch of you have asked me what the process is and how it all works. Well, hopefully this post will help you out!

    **Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that I’m in no way, shape, or form a legal lawyer. This is all from my own personal experience and of course, I may be incorrect on some of this information. I highly suggest you do some research yourself before getting into the whole trademarking process, or even talk to a local attorney specializing in trademarks. I cannot be held liable for the validity of this information. Laws change all the time. I’m just documenting my experience and trying to help out those interested in trademarking their name.

    First, if you haven’t done so already, I would make your blog business a LLC. I wrote a blog post on that and you can read it right here. I explain in there why you should and trademarking is the next step (or in my case, that’s what I wanted to do).

    About a year ago, I decided I wanted to trademark my blog name, Table for Two. I wanted to trademark it for several reasons:

    1. I wanted to protect my blog name so that no other competing companies in the recipe development/food blog industry could take ownership of it or have anything similar. I wanted to be unique and the only ‘Table for Two.’
    2. I wanted to prevent the confusion that could occur if multiple companies used the same or similar business names and/or logos.
    3. I wanted to declare exclusive rights to my name.
    4. Since I started blogging three years ago, Table for Two has become fairly well-known. It’s a wonderful thing, but once you become well-known, there are people out there that want to take that away from you. Someone might try to use my company’s reputation for its own benefits. I wanted to protect that and prevent it from happening. If they tried to use my company’s name, they could use it in the wrong way and actually cause defamation to my brand and everything I built it up to be.

    A lot of this kind of sounds selfish, I know, but you have to be selfish when it comes to your business and your brand. You spend countless hours developing recipes, photographing them, working with companies/brands…why should someone take all your hardwork from you in a blink of an eye?

    So, there are a few ways to go about trademarking your name. You can either:

    1. Do it yourself on LegalZoom (I do not recommend this),
    2. Do it yourself on the USPTO’s website (I do not recommend this),
    3. Or you can hire a trademark attorney and have them take care of it for you.

    I went with option #3 and this was a personal decision. You may disagree with this if you’ve already filed one yourself, but I wanted to be safe and ensure that I was doing everything correctly, so spending a few hundred dollars more was way worth it to me than to file, lose money, and have to spend more money to re-file.

    I hired a trademark attorney because there are various steps that you need to do before you file to register to trademark your name. By hiring a trademark attorney, I knew this would get done correctly because they specialize in this. They know what they’re doing! You may not. There’s also different classes you can file for for your mark. I didn’t want to mess that up. To file, it costs $275 per class application fee. If your application gets rejected because you filed wrong or missed something, you don’t get that money back. Risky, huh?

    My trademark attorney did the following for me:

    • Did an Internet search to see how many other similar businesses had my name,
    • A USPTO Trademark search to see if any one with the same name already registered their name,
    • A distinctiveness evaluation,
    • The actual application,
    • And any non-adversarial office actions from the USPTO, meaning, he’d take care of the questions, mailings, etc., from the USPTO if they had any.

    However, if someone were to challenge my application or if the USPTO rejected my application, it would need to be appealed and he’d take care of that for me, but that would be an additional fee. BUT with the research he does before filing should give you a really good idea of whether or not someone would challenge it or not, or if the USPTO would reject it.

    After I agreed to the fee/contract, my trademark attorney did his initial research and found on the USPTO Trademark search that my mark is distinctive enough to be registered, but on the Internet search, he said there were many cooking and food blogs using the name ‘Table for Two.’ He mentioned that most were started before my blog but none of them have registered their mark with the USPTO which is good because it means they won’t block my registration BUT it also means they might have priority over my mark, meaning they might be able to prevent me from using my mark in the state in which they operate their blog and possible other areas as well. In layman’s term: if someone in Nebraska had a blog that was called Table for Two, I wouldn’t be able to take them down for use of my mark because they were created before me. Or at least this is how I understood it.

    Anyway, so after I agreed to his findings and whether or not I wanted to proceed (which obviously I agreed), he filed the application and then the waiting process began. He says it typically takes about 2-3 months for the USPTO to review your application and after that, if there are no office actions, they publish your trademark application for review for I think 60 days (don’t quote me on this). This means, they publish your trademark publicly for anyone to view it and if someone opposes it, then you’d have to appeal it. If no one opposes it, the mark will be registered in about 3 1/2 months.

    Thankfully, mine went through with no issues and as of October 22nd, 2013, my mark was officially registered!

    There are ongoing fees with trademarks but they aren’t annually. When you or your attorney get the actual registration in the mail, the basic maintenance fees are after 5 years, 10 years, and every 10 years after that. Trademarks are good for as long as you use the mark and the registration is good for as long as you keep up the maintenance fees.

    Just as a point of reference and something I learned through this process: ™ is used for an unregistered trademark. You can use use it while your mark is being applied for/registered. Only after it is OFFICIALLY registered, can you use the ® symbol! If you check out my logo, you can see the little ® symbol by the name now :) my trademark attorney said that I can use the registration mark “anywhere you use the ‘Table for Two’ mark to identify your brand.”

    Additional information:

    USPTO website
    Trademark Electronic Search System

    My trademark attorney’s name is Stephen Burch (big thanks to Julie of The Little Kitchen for the referral). At the time, his flat fee for this trademark process was $500. Total, I spent $775 for the entire trademark process ($500 attorney fee + $275 application filing fee). Well worth it :)

    Please let me know if you have any questions and I will try my best to answer them to the best of my knowledge. I’m definitely not a pro at this but I can try to help if it’s something I’ve gone through.

  • 41 Comments
    Julie Wampler of Table for Two Blog
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  • Laurie {SimplyScratch} says:

    This is really helpful Julie! Congrats on the trademark :)

  • Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) says:

    Wow! Fascinating–thanks so much for the helpful information. And congratulations! That is very exciting.

  • Karen says:

    Hi, congratulations! I just mine mine trademarked this year too (!) and you’re right on about the process. It’s long, involved and a bit costly if you hire someone but the peace of mind of hiring a professional was worth it to me too. Best of luck! And great post on all of this :)

    • Julie says:

      Thanks! Congratulations to you too! :)

  • Nicole @ The Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie says:

    Thanks for the post Julie! I have been contemplating doing this for a while but wasn’t exactly sure what other costs may be involved (besides the application fee). Hearing about your process definitely helps!

    And congrats on getting Table for Two officially registered!

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci) says:

    This is such a helpful post, congrats on getting officially registered!

  • Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough says:

    Thank you thank you THANK YOU for doing this post. I’ve been thinking about trademarking my site name for a while now but I’ve avoided it because it confuses me :) This is so helpful!

  • Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl says:

    Great and helpful details! When dealing with trademarking and business names I’d always recommend having a professional do it, it can save you much money in the long run! When making a LLC in NY it’s complicated and expensive, and you need to get it published in newspapers – having my accountant do it was worth it!

  • Kelli @ The Corner Kitchen says:

    Super helpful post, Julie!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Coleens Recipes says:

    I just discovered, recently, that a woman in Indonesia has “stolen” a LOT of my recipes and photos and posted them as her own. She didn’t even bother to change the wording and left in all of my comments about my family etc. I felt very violated. She has not posted ANY contact information or email, so I can’t even get in touch with her. I don’t think having a trademark would stop a person like that, do you? It has taken the fun out of blogging for me and I’m thinking of stopping all together.

  • kat says:

    super helpful!! thanks girl :)

    • Julie says:

      Sure thing! :)

  • Jess says:

    Good for you to protect yourself and your brand, and thank you so much for sharing this – it’s always so interesting to hear about someone else’s experience in navigating the legal world that comes along with blogging.

  • Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. says:

    So glad you posted this. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time and then as soon as i started giving it more serious thinking, Bravo went and made a show using my blog’s name. Now I’m not sure I will be able to trademark, ugh!

  • Timothy Fitzgerald Young says:

    I founded a food company, Food For Thought, in 1995 and trademarked my name and logo in 1996. It didn’t occur to me to include my blog then since that did not take for until around 2007. Nonetheless I’ve been publishing a blog called Food For Thought that deals with issues around just and sustainable food. Until now there have only been a few people I’ve had to send warning too, then just a few weeks ago the HuffingtonPost and Chipotle Mexican Grill joined forces to launch a blog covering the exact same topic. This could be a long drawn out battle. Lesson learned. Trademark your blog names!. To ready more about my struggle, you can go here: http://www.foodforthought.net/blog/

    • Julie says:

      Oh man, that’s horrible. Good luck with all that – I hope you blog your journey through the battle. It’d be an interesting read and something that’ll help us all realize how important it is to protect our blog names! Thanks for sharing!

      • Timothy Fitzgerald Young says:

        It’ll be a long battle. Our brand is all our family has in so many ways, so I’m not going away. I’ll be hounding Huffington Post and Chipotle as long as I have breath in this body. It’s more than a trademark issue. It’s about corporate ethics. Both entities are quick to tout their own virtues of integrity, yet their actions speak so much louder.

        • Julie says:

          I completely agree with you! Corporations disgust me sometimes. They market themselves one way but at the root/core, it’s the complete opposite.

  • Timothy Fitzgerald Young says:

    Thanks. Should any of your readers care to look further, they can read about it here: http://www.foodforthought.net/a-david-vs-goliath-tale-of-trademark-infringement-did-huffington-post-and-chipotle-deliberately-use-a-trademarked-name/

  • Layla @ Brunch Time Baker says:

    Congrats on trademarking your name! This is a step we should all take but I guess it all comes down to when you feel you are ready to take that extra step. Thanks for sharing this very inspirational post Julie!

  • Elizabeth @ SugarHero.com says:

    Thanks for the information! I’ve been intending to trademark mine for months, and this is just the push I needed.
    Question: I was thinking of using LegalZoom for this process. When you say you don’t recommend them, is that simply because of the risk of not doing the process correctly (ie, the same risk I’d run in doing it myself) or is there some other reason you’ve heard of for not using them? Thanks!

    • Julie says:

      Hi Elizabeth, I’m saying I don’t recommend LegalZoom because it’s simply the risk of not doing the process correctly on your own. Good luck!

  • Susan says:

    Thank you for this post Julie. I applied for a trademark through the USPTO website and am now in the process of responding to a challenge from them. It may be time to seek out an attorney. We’ll see.
    Congratulations on receiving your trademark. I bet it feels great!

    • Julie says:

      Oh no, I hope you can figure it out, Susan! An attorney is great for that very reason but maybe you can figure it out on your own if it’s not too hard of a challenge from the USPTO! Good luck!

  • Remy says:

    Thanks for this article you clear all my question regarding trademarking my blog. It’s been exhaustion search for the correct steps to follow, and now after reading our article I will follow your suggestions. Thank You!

    • Julie says:

      Glad I was able to help a bit with my post!

  • Paul says:

    I’ve recent applied to register my trademark too. It’s a necessity IMHO for anyone who takes their blogging seriously.

  • Mau says:

    I am struggling financially and looking for ways to boost my income. Can you make money on a blog site?

    To Timothy Fitzgerald Young: I am routing for you.

    Mau

    • Julie says:

      Hi Mau, yes you can make money off a blog but I wouldn’t start a blog with the sole intention of making money.

  • Amy Kim says:

    I’m in the middle of the approval process and used Legal Zoom. So far so good. Just wondering if you actually used Legal Zoom or if someone advised you against using them. Now I’m a little anxious!

    • Julie says:

      I haven’t used them but I was just advised against them because trademarking is a complicated process and I would just trust a trademark attorney more than an online ‘all-in-one’ kinda thing. But that’s just me personally!

      • amy kim says:

        Thanks! I’ve read info like this on other sites, but yours is written well and most comprehensive. Now onto your post re: LLC. I’ve been putting this off for way tooooo long…

  • kat @yummyyumfoodlover says:

    wow I had no idea about trade marking my name thank you so much congrats.

  • Dana says:

    Thanks so much for this post, Julie. I started my blog a few months ago. I never expected it to be anything more than a little hobby…and it is a hobby but it is not little anymore. It has gone viral and people are loving it. Nearly 160,000 views since 12/1. I am overwhelmed and completely ignorant when it comes to all this. This post gave me some practical answers. I have no idea what the future holds or where TheSkirtGirl.com is going. But looking at your blog, I’m inspired. Your site is beautiful! Thanks again for posting!

    • Julie says:

      Thanks Dana! Good luck to you and your blog! Congrats!

  • cristina says:

    Julie – thanks so much for sharing your experience when trademarking your blog and writing such an educational post. It’s helped me a lot in my research about it and I’m now anxious to get the ball rolling! :)

    • Julie says:

      Glad it helped!

  • Nadia @ Mama and the City says:

    What about url? for instance, tablefortwo.com — I noticed yours has the ‘blog’ in it, but if someones buys and uses url tablefortwo.com what is the impact of your registry and trademark over it?

    • Julie says:

      I actually just went into a legal battle with the owner of tablefortwo.com – they wanted to charge me $89K for it. Long story short – I loss because even though I have the trademark for it, the judges found that the website was being “acceptably used” – which is complete BS cause it’s just a webpage with an ad that says “buy this domain!” I kind of hate them and am very bitter :) but I also got “Table for Two” trademarked after they already had the site :(

      However, if you find another site that is using your name and they created it after you trademarked your name, you have a good case and will probably win. I’m not a legal professional so I can’t guarantee that or anything, and just like most legal cases, not everything is 100%.

  • Candace says:

    Your transparency is so helpful. Thanks a lot! Going through this right now for my blog.

    • Seng says:

      I agree that your transparency is awesome to help other bloggers like myself on this journey. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Now, I’m going to totally do opposite of what you said to do (try to file it myself), so I’m crossing my fingers :) Thank you again!!!! So excited to one day use that symbol on my name :)

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