US Trademark Law: Registration, Intent-To-Use, & Not Filing At All

by Zach Stevens

Depending on what stage of business development you are in will determine if it’s time to file for trademark registration, if you can put it off to a later date, or, depending on the nature of your business, whether or not you need to file at all.

Instances Where You May Not Need To File

Is The Use Of Your Mark Limited?

In other words, will your product/service use be limited to a specific location? 

In US trademark law, businesses get common law rights to a name the moment it is used in commerce – this is all legitimate even without registering with the USPTO.

The thing to keep in mind, however, is that these de facto common law rights are:

  1. Limited to the specific geographic location in which the mark is being used, and
  2. They have very limited protection

Will You Only Be Using Your Mark For A Brief Period?

Getting a mark officially registered can take a while, and if you already have everything ready to start selling something in your local area for a brief period of time, the wait and cost of registration may not be worth it.

When To File For Intent-To-Use

Intent-To-Use is a form of trademark application reserved for those who have conducted a comprehensive trademark search (something everyone must do before applying) and decided on a unique mark, but have yet to begin selling their products/services on an interstate level.

If something is trademarked, it implies that the products or services associated with that trademark are market-ready and being used in interstate commerce. 

So, if the only thing about your business that’s airtight and ready to go is the mark itself, file for intent-to-use – this reserves your mark until you do begin to sell, after which time you can file again with the USPTO and receive trademark registration.

When To Register Your Trademark

If you’ve registered for intent-to-use and have begun selling your products/services on an interstate level, it’s time to file for official trademark registration. 

If you didn’t file for intent-to-use and you’re currently selling your products/services, you need to get your mark registered ASAP. 

And as stated above, always conduct a comprehensive trademark search before deciding on a mark and filing with the USPTO. 

US Trademark Law

Why Hire A US Trademark Attorney?

As with almost everything involved with the federal government, there is a lot involved in filing for trademark registration. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s very likely that you’re going to run into issues and setbacks.

US trademark attorneys know all the ins and outs of trademark registration and can help you conduct a comprehensive trademark search to ensure your mark is not only strong enough to be registered, but will also alot you a high level of legal protection.

Whether you’re a US or non-US citizen, trademark application is going to go a lot more smoothly with an experienced trademark attorney helping you along the way.

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