No matter what end is envisioned for the wine business, the first legal matter that must be addressed before the brand is established is to ensure the brand can be protected under trademark law. A wine brand is word, design or a combination of both that identifies the wine business to the world. The creation of a brand starts with an initial dual analysis: is anyone using a similar or identical brand in the wine or wine related trademark classes of goods and services (trademark search); and are there similar or identical brands in other trademark categories which may have similar channels of trade.
The second step in evaluating a proposed trademark is determining whether it actually functions as a trademark. The most common types of trademarks are words, designs (logos), tag lines, and trade dress. As long as these words and/or designs identify the source of the goods, the words and/or designs may function as a trademark – which may be protected. An individual or business may register a trademark to protect domain names, business names, certain geographic names and other related terms (as long as the geographic names are not geographic indicators and consumers are unlikely to make a goods/place association), and sometimes surnames.