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.