What is a common law trademark and why bother to register a mark?

24 October, 2018

Under U.S. law, a “common law trademark” is generally established when someone uses a company name, product name, logo or slogan in day-today business, even if it is not registered. So, why register a trademark when a common law trademark may already exist? Common law rights ordinarily are limited to the geographic area where the mark is used, as opposed to the nationwide protection that comes with registering a mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This means that if you don’t register your mark, it can be difficult to expand your brand. In addition, registration of a trademark can give business owners legal advantages, as it confirms validity of the mark and date of usage, which can be useful in litigation. Once a trademark is accepted by the USPTO, it is added to the USPTO database, which can discourage others from using the mark in the future.