An event itself, including the layout and format of the event and the particular activities taking place at the event, cannot be trademarked. However, the name of the event can be protected in order to stop third parties from operating an event under the same name. In order to be eligible for trademark protection the name of the event should be original and distinctive and must not be in use by other parties.
Trademarks are words, symbols, phrases, slogans or logos used to identify the goods or services of a particular business or individual. A trademarked event name stands to identify a specific event from other events being held by competitors. Trademark protection only extends to the identifying aspects of any good or service. Although patents protect processes and inventions, most events are not eligible for patent protection either.
While it is not possible to actually trademark an event, the name of the event is how the public comes to recognize and appreciate value associated with the event. As a result, owning the rights to an event essentially means owning the trademark rights associated with the name of the event. A good event name should be original. Generic event names will not be granted trademark protection because the Trademark Office will not grant a monopoly over a commonly used term.
Before attempting to trademark the name of your event you will need to conduct a background search to ensure that no one else is using a similar name. Search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Electronic Search System. You will also need to search the Internet and event listings as any party using an event name without registration prior to your use of the event name will have senior rights.
To apply for an event trademark you will need to provide the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with your name and address, the name of your event, a description of the goods and services offered at your event, a statement as to when you began using your event name and an example of your event name being used in commerce. Common examples include an advertisement for your event or a website publicizing your event. Submit your application to the Trademark Office along with the applicable filing fee. As of 2012, the filing fee for an online application is $275.