I want to get my brand's name out and figured it would be a good interaction with consumers to give free ice cream out on the beach during a hot day. It would be grocery store bought (packaged) ice cream and it would be given out with no expectations of anything in return. The people giving them out would be wearing a T-Shirt with my brand's name on it.
Maybe, maybe not. It is possible the town has provided a concession to someone to have the rights to distribute food on that beach.
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I used to own a beach front nightclub in Long Branch back in the 90s with riparian rights . There were all sorts of codes and regs related to what we could do on that beach. I do not suppose much has eased since then given the level of investment. So as noted, you may be prohibited from soliciting on the beach, selling or distributing food products, etc. You need to find out from the town what you can and cannot do and whether you need to get proper permits, etc. Otherwise, there is certainly nothing wrong with handling out free ice cream in general.
Now regards to your own brand (trademark), before you invest in any trademark make sure you get some legal guidance. It is of course best practice to clear it before you start using any trademark and starting with a strong one is your best strategy. Know as well that merely registering your business name with a state or county agency or acquiring a domain does not convey any right to use that name in commerce as a source identifier or trademark. For example, I can presumably register my new tech start up "Boogle" with the NJ secretary of state because there is no other business already doing business there under that name, but this does not mean that I would not be infringing on the Google trademark, which I would be. The onus is on you to ensure the name you choose is not a problem.
Your trademark will be one of if not the most important and valuable business assets you will have and you will ultimately spend more money in support if it than you will anywhere else (advertising, marketing, PR, branding, packaging, etc.). So you owe it to your business and yourself to make sure you handle this properly upfront and the first order of business always starts with a proper and comprehensive clearance.
Whenever you endeavor into investing in a trademark it is very important that you conduct the proper clearance due diligence on all the text names upfront and before you start spending any money in support of it or submit an application to the USPTO. In the US, this means searching under both federal (USPTO) as well as common law because trademark rights stem from use in this country NOT registration. This means that acquiring a federal registration does not necessarily mean that you are not infringing on another's intellectual property.
I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with and know you are free to work with counsel located anywhere as you have many options available not just those that provide services in your home state.
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC on the basis of this posting.
Its certainly not trademark infringement. However, you need to check local beach ordinances to make sure you are not violating them.
YOu may need a vendor's license or a permit to hand out ice cream on the beach.
You want to give out "(packaged) ice cream" which is store bought by using people "wearing a T-shirt with my brand's name on it".
What type of goods or services is your brand for?
Let's say the ice cream is "Hershey's" ice cream, is there an attempt here to associate "Hershey's" with your brand?
Legal Disclaimer- the information provided herein is not legal advice. Transmission of this information is not intended to create, and receipt by you does not constitute, an attorney / client relationship. Although effort has been made to ensure that the answers are correct, Law Office of Walter Tencza Jr. cannot and does not offer any warranty, express or implied that the answers contained are accurate statements of law. This document is provided for informational purposes only. Viewers must not act upon any information without first seeking advice from a qualified attorney outside the context of this document.
Provided you obtain a permit from the town, I see no reason why you can't give out free ice cream on the beach. Hopefully, you did a trademark search to make sure your trademark is clear for adoption, use and federal registration.
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