Placentia, CA asked in Trademark for California

Q: Is the name "Minute-Man" trademarked.

I want to know if this name is fully trademarked by any companies. I want to use it as a superhero name but I'm not sure. And if there are any loopholes that can get me out of any problems, that would be appreciated.

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2 Lawyer Answers
John Martin Hilla
John Martin Hilla
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Livonia, MI

A: To properly determine whether a mark is free to use, you should contact a trademark lawyer to run a professional clearance search for you. A proper clearance search will review not only the registered marks on the USPTO database but also usages of the proposed mark that have not yet registered.

This is important because the US does not grant exclusive right to those who file trademark registration applications first but, rather, to those who use a mark first in interstate commerce. Thus, the name could be in use somewhere in the stream of commerce, and that use would have priority. You would want to re-think the name before proceeding with your commercial enterprise.

A trademark lawyer will be able to offer you that advice.

Personally, as not only a trademark lawyer but also a longtime comic book fan and collector, I can tell you that Minute-Man has been used before.

Fritz-Howard Raymond Clapp agrees with this answer

Fritz-Howard Raymond Clapp
Fritz-Howard Raymond Clapp PRO label
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Beverly Hills, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: A quick search of active US trademark registrations and applications reveals none for MINUTE MAN, MINUTEMAN, or MINUTE-MAN in the categories of comic books, entertainment, toys or computer games, which are the most relevant (as there are for superhero SPIDER MAN), which is encouraging but not definitive. You should have an experienced trademark attorney perform a more diligent search and opinion, and to advise you regarding the pros/cons of making an "intent to use" application for the mark before committing resources to the project.

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