Types of Trademark Protection

Complete a trademark application with state and federal agencies such as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to prevent other business entities from using marks associated with your business. Register all trademarks as soon as possible to ensure you are the rightful owner of all marks pertaining to your business.

Learn more about ways to maintain trademark protection.

There are various types of protections afforded to certain marks including:

Common Law Trademarks: The term “common law” is law derived from English and American judges and others before the establishment of local, state, federal laws.

You may have a common law mark if you use your trademark without registering it with state or federal governments.

Even if you have not registered your mark, you may be able to protect it if you can show that you used the mark in commerce before someone else did.

Usually, common law trademarks are limited in scope to the geographic area in which they are used. For example, if you used the name “Joe’s Jolly Pizza” in Maine, you would likely not be able to stop another owner from using the same name in Arizona because the infringement has taken place in another state.

Common law trademarks are often marked with the signals “TM” or “SM” to designate that the owner seeks to protect those marks.

State Registered Marks: Marks registered with states have more limited protection than other types of safeguards, so it is to a business’s benefit to register their marks in the states in which they market their services.

While the protection is generally the same, state registration gives the trademark owner greater proof of ownership as compared to common law methods.

Federal Trademarks: Most national or worldwide (or those that want to be) should register their trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark office (USPTO) as there are numerous advantages to a federally registered trademark.

First, this type of trademark registration gives everyone in the nation notice of your ownership, which protects you if another firm later attempts to infringe on your mark.

Another benefit of federal registration is the presumption of validity and ownership by virtue of holding an approved federally registered mark. This presumption means that you have national priority for the mark in the face of any challengers. You can tell when a mark is federally registered when you see the symbol: ®.

Foreign Trademarks: If your business is located in other nations, it is in your best interest to register that mark with those other countries. Countries offering registered trademark protection include, but are not necessarily limited to, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

While international protections vary, most are similar to protections offered by the United States. International registration does have numerous pitfalls, however, and it is in your best interest to seek the services of a trademark attorney to help you navigate the path.

Contact the Lexero Law Firm today to learn more about protecting your trademark or defending your trademark from use by another business or individual.