Do I Need a Federal Registration To Have a Valid Trademark?

A federal registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is not required to establish trademark rights. Trademark rights automatically attach to a word, logo, or symbol once it is used in interstate commerce. This is generally known

as “common law trademark rights.” However, common law trademarks are generally not as strong as those granted through federal registration of the mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Common law trademarks are limited to the geographic area which they are used. Additionally, you may not be able to file a federal lawsuit to enforce your common law trademark.

Federal registration of your trademark offers greater protection for your brand than what is available under common law. The following is a summary of these enhanced benefits offered under federal law:

    1. A federal registration gives constructive notice of the owner’s trademark to others. Constructive notice means that notice of the trademark’s existence is deemed as a matter of law – even if the person does not actually know of its existence. Thus, no one can later argue that they were unaware of the trademark. As such the owner of the trademark may be able to sue anyone who uses an identical or a confusingly similar mark.
    2. A federal registration provides a prima facie evidence of the owner’s exclusive right to use the mark in commerce in connection with the goods or services specified in registration certificate.
    3. Federal registration enables the owner to sue infringers in any federal court. Additionally, it allows the recovery of treble damages, attorneys’ fees and other enhanced remedies in infringement suits.
    4. Federal registration allows the trademark holder to request the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to bar importation of counterfeit goods. This is a very important right, especially for Amazon sellers that manufacture in China and have their goods shipped directly to an Amazon fulfillment center.
    5. Only a federally registered mark can use the ® symbol. Using the ® symbol without a Federal registration constitutes fraud. This is a serious offense and would allow competitors to bring a claim against the wrongful user of the ® sign.
    6. Amazon requires a pending federal trademark application for brand owners to enroll in its brand registry. It is important to note that Amazon will only consider trademarks on the principal register and not the supplemental register.

If you have any questions about the process of registering a trademark, please contact us today. We can offer you personalized guidance on securing your trademark, boosting its protection level, and preventing competitors from infringing on your brand.

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