Common Law Trademark Rights
Registering a trademark is not as simple as searching the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). There is an additional level of research that needs to be conducted to ensure your potential trademark is not subject to common law protections by another business or individual.
You may be asking yourself, “What is a common law trademark?” Well, a common law trademark is established exclusively through the mark’s use in commerce in a specific geographic region or area. The issue of common law trademark typically arises with specific business names, logos, and phrases that are used in a particular jurisdiction or part of the country. It is important to understand that a business claiming common law trademark rights are limited regionally and are not as easily enforced when compared to a trademark that was registered with the USPTO.
Common Law Trademarks vs. Federally Registered Trademarks
As mentioned, a common law trademark is generally obtained by using the mark in association with a business or product. This means, in stark contrast to a federally registered trademark, there is no application process for a common law trademark. In addition, there are typically no fees associated with obtaining a trademark through common law.
It may sound relatively easy to obtain a common law trademark, but it is important to understand that the ease in securing a common law trademark comes at a price – the ability to actually enforce the mark. Specifically, a common law trademark is oftentimes only enforceable within a particular state or possibly a targeted region in the U.S. It generally does not carry the same weight or have the same enforcement authority of a federally registered trademark.
Federal trademarks have inherent advantages over a common law trademark. In many instances, a federally registered trademark will prevail in a dispute involving another business attempting to assert a common law trademark. Nevertheless, in limited circumstances, a common law trademark has prevailed over a federally registered trademark, but only when there is clear evidence that the common law trademark had an earlier, proven first use date that could reasonably challenge the federal trademark’s rights in a specific geographic area.
Avoid Delays and Disputes with a Common Law Trademark
In order to ensure your new trademark does not run into legal issues with an existing common law trademark, you need to retain experienced legal counsel to guide you through the clearance process. This includes conducting an in-depth interest search, engaging in industry-specific directory searches, reviewing business filing searches, and even conducting a domain search. However, even if all of these steps are taken, other common law trademarks may still exist.
Have Questions About Common Law Trademark Rights? Contact The Highly Reputable Omni Legal Group Today
The legal exposure associated with failing to conduct a proper search of a trademark that could be subject to common law rights is why you need to retain the services of a respected and experienced Los Angeles trademark attorney. Omni Legal Group is a premier Patent, Trademark, and Copyright law firm with offices in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills. For further information or to schedule a consultation please contact Omni Legal Group at 855.433.2226 or visit www.OmniLegalGroup.com to learn more.