Many people assume they can protect their trademark simply by using the mark in commerce. It is true that you are not required to register a trademark to achieve some level of protection and that one establishes common law rights simply by using a mark in commerce.
However, having a federally registered trademark on the USPTO's principal register provides several advantages:
- Serves as constructive notice to the public of the registrant's ownership of the trademark
- Establishes a legal presumption of your ownership of the mark and your exclusive right to use the trademark nationwide on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration
- Allows the registrant to bring an action concerning the trademark in federal court
- U.S registration can be used as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries
- Can be filed with U.S. Customs to prevent the importation of infringing foreign goods
Federal registration also allows you to use the ® (the "Circle-R") symbol. Any time you claim rights in a trademark, you may use the TM
(trademark) or SM
(service mark) symbol to alert the public to your claim, regardless of whether you have filed an application with the USPTO. However, you can only use the federal registration symbol ® after the USPTO has actually registered the trademark, not without an application or while an application is pending. Following registration, you can only use the ® symbol on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the federal trademark registration.