Federal Trademark Registration

Lia Kopin-Green
September 1, 2022

What is Federal Trademark Registration?

Federal trademark registration is a process for filing for federal protection of a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). In the United States, a trademark does not need to be registered with the government. In fact, common law trademark rights are granted automatically upon use. However, federal registration of a trademark, a concept that stems from federal intellectual property statutes, is almost always recommended. Federal registration protects and ensures a trademark’s rights on a national level. It will also allow you to use the ® symbol and properly defend your brand against infringement. 

Key Takeaways

  • Federal trademark registration refers to the process in which one files for federal protection of a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
  • Although federal trademark registration is not mandatory, it is generally recommended.
  • Federally registered trademarks can be recognized by the ® symbol.

Federal Trademark Registration Applications

You can apply for federal trademark registration through the USPTO website by completing an application and paying a registration fee. As part of the application process, you will need to provide certain details and information, such as:

  • A short description of your trademark or service mark
  • A description of the products or services on which the mark will be used
  • The date when the trademark was first used in the marketplace
  • A drawing or image of the mark
  • A suggestion for the classification of the mark (there are 45 different trademark classes - the USPTO provides resources to help you figure out which classification applies to your mark)

Federal Trademark Registration Limitations

It should be noted that applications for trademark registration are not always accepted. Upon completing your trademark registration application, a USPTO examiner will carefully review your application and determine whether federal protection will be granted. Although there are a variety of factors the examiner may consider while they assess the application, the USPTO will typically reject trademarks that include:

  • The American flag
  • Generic names
  • Names of living persons used without their consent
  • Federal or local governmental symbols or insignias
  • Clearly descriptive names
  • Deceptively misdescriptive marks

Benefits of Federal Trademark Registration

While common law trademarks grant intellectual property rights in a particular region, they are not typically recommended for long-term protection. Federal trademark registration provides nation-wide protection against infringement. Once the trademark is registered, you are allowed to designate it with the ® symbol. This powerful symbol warns competitors that you own the rights to this mark and that if someone infringes on it, you have the right to file a federal trademark infringement action and claim legal remedies.

Furthermore, registering your trademark can add value to your business’s net worth.

Bottom Line

Registering your trademark with the federal government is the best way to protect your brand from infringement. If you aren’t sure where to start with the registration process, consider consulting with a skilled intellectual property law attorney.

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