How can I get a trademark approved for something that can be considered a surname?

My company has a name that is a different spelling of my family’s last name. I tried to file a trademark, but it was declined due to the fact that the trademark attorney considered it a surname. I only tried to register the trademark for the general name without the logo. If I try to re-register the name but include the logo and actual artwork design of the name, will this be approved? If not, how can I get a trademark approved for this name?

Asked on June 13, 2012 under Business Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Your best bet is try to register the mark with logo, artwork, distinctive script, etc. A trademark cannot be anything generic, descriptive, or already in common use: surnames fail on this basis, for example. However, an otherwise invalid mark can be trademarkable "as a package" with distinctive graphical or typographic treatment or elements.

Alternately, rename your company to something you can protect as a trademark.

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