Trademark Basics Series

What It Takes to Register a Trademark

The process to apply for a federal trademark registration is a separate and more involved examination process than registering a business name with a state’s Secretary of State. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) conducts a months-long examination of every trademark application to ensure all statutory and regulatory requirements are met and that the mark does not conflict with an already registered or earlier-for applied mark. We have summarized the benefits of trademark registration and the process below:

Benefits to a Federal Trademark Registration

In the U.S., trademark registration is not necessary to protect or enforce your exclusive rights in your brand. You may be able to protect unregistered trademarks under so-called “common law” trademark rights based on your use and reputation of the mark in commerce. However, common law trademark rights are much more limited than the rights afforded to federally registered trademark rights. Federal registration of your mark confers a number of benefits upon the trademark owner, including the following:

  • presumption of validity of the registration, ownership of the mark, and exclusive use of the mark in commerce;
  • presumption of continuous use of the mark since the filing date of the application;
  • incontestability of the mark
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