Friday, January 04, 2013

What's happening with "Lost Dog"?

I had an "ad hoc" breakfast conversation this morning (in Arlington) with someone about the trademark controversy over the "Lost Dog cafe" (and related "Stray Cat"), first reported here July 28, 2012).

The party said that the Arlington restaurant does not object to other businesses in other states using similar names as long as they don't try to franchise the names themselves or sell other merchandise under it.

But, selling other merchandise could make a business have a different "type" under USPTO and able to use the same wordmark, under USPTO practices.

Also, up to a point, wordmarks do go national in the restaurant business.  You probably can't open an independent restaurant business called "McDonalds" or "Friday's".   In the bar business, it's pretty common for independent businesses to have the same name.  In the midwest, "The Saloon" is a common name for unconnected bars -- some of them gay, some of them not.

Restaurants and bars often fight vigorously when neighboring businesses try to get liquor licenses -- a libertarian argument against regulating these licenses, which can become a corrupted political issue, which they tend to be in the DC area.  

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