Protecting Trademarks in Real Estate Transactions

By James Ray and Zachary Martin

Failing to ensure that ownership of a property’s name conveys along with the property can result in serious consequences for buyers and sellers alike.

TRADEMARK LAW is far from most people’s minds when they are feverishly negotiating a contract to buy or sell a commercial building. However, the name associated with the building carries with it the goodwill the seller has developed during ownership. Unless ownership of the name is addressed in the purchase and sale contract, expressly assigned to the purchaser at closing and properly documented with the relevant state or federal agency, the purchaser could find itself the proud owner of a newly acquired mall, office building or luxury high-rise condominium without the right to use its distinctive name to promote the property.

Such an unintended outcome can typically be avoided by following a few simple steps. Failing to address trademarks at closing, however, can lead to significant headaches down the road for both parties.

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