Can I usea city name in the labeling for my product?

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Can I usea city name in the labeling for my product?

I would like to use the name of the city I live in for marketing on my product. I am sure this is OK. I would like to then add something at the end, for example “city name radiator repair”. Is it in my interest to Service Mark the name and any variant in order to prevent other businesses from using the same name? Also, I would like to use the city crest or shield on my marketing material. Are there any legal issues with this?

Asked on November 4, 2010 under Business Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) You can absolutely use a city name in your company's or product's name, such as "City Name Radiator Repair."

2) Unfortunately, anyone else can do the same. You cannot trademark (and service markes function like trademarks in this regard) a descriptive name, and if you are selling radiator repair services/products in City X, it is absolutely descriptive to call the product or service "City X Radiator Repair." You need a name that's NOT descriptive to protect--e.g. if you live and sell in Dallas, calling it "New York Radiator Repair" would not be descriptive. So again, a very logical, obvious descriptive name or the common variations thereof are not protectable.

3) City crest or shield: best thing to do is to check with the city's counsel or legal dept. While all federal material (pretty much) is in the public domain, I believe that states and their subunits (e.g. cities) have disction to copyright material. Best to check to see if you'll have trouble.


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