Business owners or brands who wish to protect their trademarks have two options for doing so: they can register their marks with the federal government by filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), or they can register their trademark in the state in which they reside and do business.
State registration of a trademark may be a wise choice for business owners who wish to save costs when protecting their intellectual property and depending on the goods and services they provide as well as the range of their market reach. Generally speaking, registering a trademark on the state level is cheaper than doing it federally and the approval process is simpler and faster, which can ultimately cut down on legal fees.
Another benefit of registering your mark at the state level is that it will provide an official record of when you began using your trademark in commerce within the state. This could be helpful if you discover that someone is infringing on your mark within the state, as you’ll be able to more easily prove that you were using the mark first and therefore have trademark protection.
In making your decision, it’s important to keep in mind that trademark protection that’s granted on the state level is only good within the state in which it’s approved. This may be fine if you have a local business and you do not serve customers outside of your state. But, if you do business nationally or internationally, you may find that you do not have adequate legal protection or standing to keep others from using your trademarked name or logo in all relevant jurisdictions.
Another consideration is that federally registered trademarks will have rights that trump those issued on the state level. If a federally registered trademark was in use before yours, the owner may be able to stop you from using your desired trademark, even if you successfully registered it within your state.
Finally, you will not be able to use the Ò symbol if your trademark is only registered at the state level. This marking is reserved for federally registered trademarks. You will need to use the TM for a trademark or an SM for a service mark in your marketing, branding, and packaging instead.
As you can see, there are some cases where it makes sense to only register a trademark at the state level, but for the majority of businesses and brands, having a federally registered trademark is a safer and stronger approach. Especially in the age of the internet where it’s easier than ever to work with a larger demographic of customers and ship products across state lines, a state trademark registration simply does not offer adequate protection for those who are serious about safeguarding their intellectual property.
Of course, if you’re still not sure which is the best way to register your trademark, we invite you to contact our intellectual property attorneys at 888-666-0062 to schedule a complimentary consultation.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.