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Comparing Common Law vs. Federally-Registered Trademarks

An Article in Schott, P.C.’s IP Law For Start-ups Series
By Stephen B. Schott

image-15_med_hrDo you have a business name? Are you using it in commerce? Or do you have a distinctive name for a product that you’re selling? Guess what: You may already have trademark rights. Even without filing an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office or with your state, you may be entitled to a common law trademark and the rights that accompany it. Common law trademark rights originate not from statute, but from the courts within each state. Thus, the protection afforded such rights are born of previous litigation and not the legislative process.

Even if you have these rights, however, it’s important to distinguish between the rights that you get when you federally register a mark and your common law rights.

Given the low cost of filing a trademark application and the many benefits, if your business name, slogan, or product name are important for your success, file a trademark application. It will protect you and build intellectual property value in your company.

If you have questions, contact me.

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