How do you get Rights in a Trademark?



Trademark usage and rights are a very complex area of law. Rights can be obtained in three different ways:


  • Companies or individuals can obtain some rights in trademarks just by using them in commerce. This is called “common law” protection and gives the company the exclusive right to use the mark in the area of actual use, plus a reasonable zone of expansion. Common law protection allows you to prevent other businesses in the same geographical area from using a trademark that is substantially similar to the proposed mark, and that would be likely to cause confusion to the consumer between the proposed good or service and the other good or service.

  • Companies or individuals can obtain exclusive rights to use the trademark in a particular state by obtaining a state registration. A state registration gives you the right to stop others from using a substantially similar trademark anywhere in the state, regardless of where in the state you are actually using the proposed trademark. Obtaining a state registration usually takes a few months.

  • Companies or individuals using their marks in interstate commerce can obtain exclusive rights to use the trademark in the United States by obtaining a federal registration. A federal registration gives you the right to stop others from using a substantially similar trademark anywhere in the United States, regardless of where in the country you are actually using the proposed trademark. Obtaining a federal registration usually takes more than a year, but it can be much longer.

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