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Naming Your Foodtruck

When selecting the name for your new foodtruck, or for any good or service, you need to carefully consider your options. It is important to make sure that your proposed name would not fall under the "generic" or "merely descriptive" categories, thereby eliminating or hurting your chances of obtaining a trademark registration (and making it easier for the competition to 'steal' your brand). When considering a name for your foodtruck, you want to make sure it isn't generic, descriptive, or deceptively misdescriptive. For example, MEXICAN FOOD TRUCK is generic for a food truck selling Mexican food.

How do you know if your business name will meet the {trade}mark? When it comes to federal trademark registration, there are a few general categories of distinctiveness (in order from strongest to weakest):

1) Fanciful or coined (these are usually made up words that have no meaning such as XEROX and ZYNGA)
2) Arbitrary (these usually have a common meaning but not in relation to the goods/services such as APPLE for computers and GAP for clothing)
3) Suggestive (these suggest something about the goods/services but don't describe them such as MICROSOFT and AIRBUS)
4) Descriptive (they describe the goods/services)
5) Generic (these marks, such as APPLE used to sell apples, are not trademarkeable)

The first 3 categories are ideal, but a fanciful or coined term might not work for a foodtruck because foodtrucks often sell lower-priced items that can be impulse purchases so you want the consumer to have some idea of what you sell when they see your truck or social media.

As always, you want to make sure that the mark isn't being used by anyone else or you run the risk of being sued for trademark infringement. Additionally, avoid creating a false association with a celebrity. One aspect of intellectual property rights that is governed by state law (and some foreign laws) is the right of publicity or an individual's right to control the commercial use of their name, image, likeness, or other aspects of their identity. Depending on the jurisdiction, the right can extend for a period of time after a person's death. The right of publicity, generally speaking, protects a person's right to not have their likeness used for commercial purposes without permission.

If your objective is to make an association with a particular brand or company, depending on the association you may want to consider licensing the use of their name and/or trademark. As a side note, a mere comparison of your mark or brand with another's does not necessitate a license, but a disclaimer is generally helpful. However, if you are trying to associate your mark as coming from or being closely tied to the other mark, person, or business, you either need to tread very carefully or to talk an experienced foodtruck IP lawyer about pursuing licensing rights.

If you're starting a foodtruck, talk to the Orange County foodtruck lawyers at MYBE Law about the best course of action.

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