Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What to do if your mark is not entitled to federal trademark registration.

There is actually a third type of trademark registration, aside from full and intent-to-use registrations. In previous posts, when I referred to "registration" of a trademark, I referred to a mark on the principal register. When a mark is on the principal register, it is fully protected. But marks that cannot be on the principal register can usually be registered on the supplemental register.

To compare, here are some of the benefits of full registration on the principal register:

- Constructive notice (not actual notice) to the public of the registrant's claim of ownership of the mark.
- A legal presumption of a proprietary interest in the mark.
- The ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court.
- A date of constructive use of the mark as of the filing date of the application.
- The ability to prevent the importation of infringing foreign goods.
- The right to obtain "incontestability" of the mark.
- The use of the U.S. registration as a basis to obtain registration in other countries.

Here are differences for registration on the supplemental register:

- You cannot file an intent-to-use application for the supplemental register.
- A mark can be merely descriptive or deceptively misdescriptivegeographically descriptive, or merely a surname on the supplemental register.
- Secondary meaning is not required.
- Registration does not provide constructive notice of use to the public.
- A mark is not subject to opposition or cancellation.
- A mark cannot gain "incontestable" status.
- A mark is not subject to interference or interference proceedings.
- Registration does not provide evidence of an exclusive right to use the mark.
- Registration does not prevent importation of infringing goods.

So, as you can see, there are definite benefits to being on the principal register as opposed to the supplemental register. But, in cases when a mark cannot be registered on the principal register, the supplemental register may still be available.

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