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U.S. Federal Trademark Filings

September 16, 2014

In 2013, more than 300,000 trademarks and service marks were filed across 45 different classes of goods and services with the United States Patent & Trademark ("USPTO"); however, less than 200,000 trademarks were registered by the USPTO office during 2013.

In the United States, a trademark or service mark doesn't generally have any federal rights until that mark is registered by the USPTO in either the Principal Register or the Supplemental Register. Although both the Principal and Supplemental Registers are just that, registers, the rights associated with marks registered on the Supplemental Register and quite limited in comparison with the rights of marks on the Principal Register.

The infographic below breaks down the geography of trademark filings in the United States and also includes some trademark filing tips.

Trademark Filing

This brief overview of some important considerations associated with trademark filing and registration is by no means comprehensive. Always seek the advice of a competent professional when making important financial and legal decisions.

Steve Cook is an attorney at Cook & Cook. Although Cook & Cook's office is located in Arizona, the firm represents clients throughout the United States.

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What is a Federal Trademark?

A trademark or service mark is commonly a word, symbol, design, or combination of such, which (a) identifies the source of goods or services and (b) distinguishes such from the goods or services of others. For example, the word "NIKE" or Nike's so-called "SWOOSH" symbol denote that a particular pair of shoes, item of clothing, or other good(s) came from Nike while also distinguishing those goods from Nike's competitors.

Although trademarks and service marks are often words or symbols, a trademark or service mark can actually be a color, a sound, a smell, or almost anything else for that matter.

What is Federal Trademark Registration?

In the United States, federal trademark registration consists of filing and prosecuting an application for registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

If a registration is issued, there are a number of benefits available to the owner of a registered mark, including:

1) Federal registration establishes a presumption regarding a party’s exclusive right to use that registered mark nationwide in connection with the goods or services listed in the federal registration, 2) the owner of a federally registered trademark is permitted to file suit in federal court for trademark infringement, 3) a federally registered trademark can be filed with US customs to prevent the importation of infringing goods.

Federal Registration Refusal

In the United States, federal trademark registration consists of filing and prosecuting an application for registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The USPTO may refuse to register a mark for any number of reasons, including: likelihood of confusion; genericness; offensive, merely descriptive, deceptively misdescriptive, merely a surname (primarily), merely ornamental, or primarily geographic or geographically misdescriptive.