Can You Trademark a Club Name?
Yes, clubs can be protected under trademark law, and any materials that identify your club to the public can be trademarked with the USPTO.
For example, “IMPERIALS CAR CLUB” is a registered trademark. You may also trademark any logos or slogans associated with the club. Building a name and reputation for your club can be a lengthy process, and a process that is more difficult if you do not possess control of the associated name and slogan. Let's look at some examples of trademarked club names.
Trademarked Car Clubs
One of the common types of clubs that end up registering trademarks is car clubs. These often cover things like t-shirts and bandanas, allowing the club to create clothes or accessories to raise money without worry of someone else copying their name or design.
The Vintage Motor Car Club of America
In their own words:
The purpose of the Vintage Motor Car Club of America (formerly known as the Veteran Motor Car Club of America) is to encourage preservation, restoration, and use of antique and historically significant automobiles. Our specialty is touring events, where we drive our cars to interesting places, meeting new people and visiting old friends along the way. We have fun while everyone gets to see, hear, and enjoy old cars driving on our highways.
The VMCCA recently trademarked their logo, which is described in the application as:
The mark consists of the stylized wording "VMCCA" forming the design of the body of an automobile with the front wheel attached to the left-most leg of the letter "A" extending to the left and the back wheel under the letters "CCA" with the left-most leg of the letter "M" extending to the right through the back wheel; all within the design of a rectangular border with rounded corners; all over a the design of a banner curving downward and forming a point in its lower center within which appears the stylized wording "THE VINTAGE MOTOR CAR CLUB OF AMERICA".
The logo can be seen prominently on their website.
Timeless Bombs is a car club in Chandler, Arizona that we had the pleasure of working with during their trademark registration. On their Facebook page, they describe their club as:
Timeless is a car club put together by a group of friends with cars ranging from 1954 and under that share the same interest in cars and music.
Their trademark covers use in...
Club services, namely, promoting the interests of car enthusiasts; Club services, namely, promoting the interests of car enthusiasts through participation in special events, weddings, quinceañeras, parades and car shows; Club services, namely, promoting the interests of car enthusiasts and members of a car club who arrange and organize car shows and community events; Organizing chapters of a car club and promoting the interests of the members thereof; Organizing exhibitions for cars, in the nature of car shows
Motorcycle Club Trademarks
Along with car clubs, motorcycle clubs are another very common club type that we're contacted about. These clubs often start down the path of protecting their marks when they wish to sell apparel as a fundraiser. Sometimes, though, clubs may end up feeling like they've waited to long, especially when other clubs pop up using the same (or very similar) name. Let's look at one case...
Sons of Liberty Motorcycle Club (SOLMC)
The SOLMC began operating in 2008, but years later found themselves in the midst of legal issues surrounding their name. From their blog:
We are now forced to protect ourselves and lay claim to our Right to Superior use of the name “SONS OF LIBERTY MOTORCYCLE CLUB”. We have filed an official petition to cancel the trademark registration 4703392 and filed an injunction in Federal Court. The simple fact is, we have been operating under the name “SONS OF LIBERTY MOTORCYCLE CLUB” since November of 2008 and that is documented. The defending club claims April of 2009.
We are now in the unfortunate position of defending ourselves. We were content to leave this other group alone as long as we were left alone. But now they have treaded on our goodwill and we will see them exposed as the thieves and liars they are and nothing short of their disbandment will suffice.
As shown in this example - registering your mark early can save countless hours of stress and headaches later.
Getting Help Trademarking Your Club Name
You should consider trademarking your club’s name, particularly if you intend to perform any charitable actions, as without a trademark you may not be able to restrict the use of the club’s name by your competitors. If you do not possess legal control over the name of your club, the possibility of imitation and abuse exists. An important first step in trademarking your club’s name will be ensuring that there are no existing trademarks registered for your desired name, and it’s critical to have a trademark search performed as soon as possible. We're happy to assist in this process, and help make it as smooth as possible. Check out the video below to see an overview of the process.
Protect Your Mark
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for your business name, logo, or slogan.