So you’ve got an idea for a food or beverage product or maybe even a product ready to go – but do you know how to build your brand? And better yet, how to protect that brand? This week we hosted the first of a three-part workshop series with Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) designed to help food and beverage companies answer these tricky yet critical questions. If you missed the first event, you can watch it here. In session #1, Giselle Waters, a content strategist from Mad Fish Digital, and I joined forces to share some tips and tricks for protecting food and beverage brands through various legal mechanisms, and marketing them through different digital channels. First, let’s recap my section on trademarks: Trademarks 101 Trademarks are symbols of the goodwill of your business; they are a shorthand reference to all of your investment in the quality of your product and value proposition you offer to your customers. You must protect what you build. When it comes to trademarks, there are three core areas to consider (or three legs of the stool!): Clearance. Registration. Enforcement.
  1. Trademark clearance early can save you time, money, and headache in the long run. Early research and investment into your brand strategy, and the availability of design marks, taglines, colors, logos, etc. in your industry and markets can ensure that the ones you want to use are available, and if not, can help prevent you from infringing on someone else’s protected brand. Few businesses, if any, start out with the goal to remain small so it’s important to think big picture (and long term) about your products and brand and what industries and markets your product may end up in.
  2. A trademark registration is an important asset. Trademark registrations can be used defensively to help protect your trademark from being challenged and as a tool to prevent others from encroaching on your brand in your territory. Further, trademark registrations function as risk mitigation tools. If you have one, there is less risk around your brand and that’s a plus for business valuation purposes.
  3. There are no trademark police, you must enforce your rights. Trademarks are a right, not a mandate and no one is proactively policing trademark infringement, making it your responsibility as the trademark owner to monitor and protect your brand from potential infringement.
If you would like to learn more about these concepts, you can find more information in my Trademark Basics handout here. We’ll re-cap Giselle’s talk on leveraging digital platforms for promoting food & beverage brands in our Part 2 blog post, coming soon! We touched on these trademark topics and more during our first OEN Workshop session. If you would like to dive deeper into these topics, please join us for the next two sessions either in-person, for those in the Portland area, or virtually through our livestream – there is still time to register! You can find more details about upcoming sessions here. And you can check out the full recording of session #1 here. Sheila Fox Morrison provides trademark and brand protection services, with significant experience in the food & beverage and restaurant industries. Sheila can be reached via email at or directly at 503.778.5311.