DOES MY TTB CERTIFICATE OF LABEL APPROVAL MEAN I HAVE TRADEMARK PROTECTION?
TTB’s authority to issue certificates of label approval (COLAs) for alcohol beverage products does not include trademark protection, as is stated in the instructions for TTB Form 5100.31, Application for and Certification/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approval. While TTB may be aware of an established trademark when acting on an application for a COLA, that awareness is important only for carrying out the labeling authority under the deception and misleading standards imposed by the Federal Alcohol Administration Act and not for purposes of Federal law applicable to trademarks. Therefore, TTB approval of a COLA neither automatically confers trademark protection, nor indicates that a particular mark may be used in violation of applicable intellectual property law.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides for trademark registrations and guides United States domestic and international intellectual property policies. The USPTO Web site address is www.uspto.gov/. You may find the USPTO’s list of frequently asked questions on the subject of trademarks particularly helpful: www.uspto.gov/faq/trademarks.jsp. The USPTO also has a Web site on trademark protection specifically designed for small business owners at www.uspto.gov/smallbusiness/.