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Trademarking your Shop Branding

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The list of required investments for body shop owners is lengthy. Property, equipment, staff, and many more elements all must be budgeted for.

In a recent conversation with FenderBender, David Rowe pointed out another, underrated investment that shop operators should consider: trademarking their business’ branding.

Rowe operates a family-owned shop in the Hudson Valley of New York, Kingston Collision. The owner’s family has lived in Kingston, N.Y.,  for four generations, and he wanted to make sure that his branding hinted at the business’s connection to its community.

Then, early this decade, a competitor moved into the area, and Rowe claims the competing business stole part of his facility’s name.

Rowe, whose facility brings in $1.4 million in annual revenue, wasn’t about to sit by idly, while his business had a key element of it more or less plagiarized. His response:

“We service marked our colors and name scheme, so nobody can take it,” Rowe notes. “It was only a couple hundred dollars. … It’s something where you have to go state by state and see what the requirements are.

“You have to take pictures of [your business’ trademarked colors] and you have to name them out in your description. And ours is—everything is named—and the background colors, the base colors, the lettering colors all have to be named on your application. And then you’ve got to prove that you advertise that way; you’ve got to send photos and copies of your documentation into the state to prove it.”

Otherwise, Rowe notes, a competing business simply has to change one element of your business’ branding to avoid what’s considered infringement.

While the process of trademarking a shop’s branding takes a definite time commitment, Rowe feels it’s nonetheless important.

“It took several weeks to get everything all together and get [the trademarketing process] done,” Rowe says.

“But it kept this one wolf off my backdoor.”


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