Rules of the Supplemental Register for Trademarks

By Louis Kroeck

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has two different sections where you may register trademarks: the principal register and the supplemental register. The supplemental register differs from the principal register in that supplemental register trademarks are generally granted fewer protections. Descriptive marks, surnames, geographic terms and non-distinctive or non-functional trade dress can all be registered under the supplemental register.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has two different sections where you may register trademarks: the principal register and the supplemental register. The supplemental register differs from the principal register in that supplemental register trademarks are generally granted fewer protections. Descriptive marks, surnames, geographic terms and non-distinctive or non-functional trade dress can all be registered under the supplemental register.

Purpose

The purpose of the supplemental register is to allow for easier registration of international trademarks. Before you can apply for an international trademark, you must have a valid domestic trademark. In the United States, it is considerably more difficult to register a trademark than in other countries. The supplemental register provides trademark applicants an option for gaining domestic registration for marks that may not be accepted on the principal register so that the applicant can seek international registration.

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Court Rules

Certain legal presumptions are available to a trademark holder in the principal register that are not available to trademark holders in the supplemental register. For example, holders of a trademark on the principal register can use their trademark registration certificate as prima facie court evidence that their mark is valid. Unfortunately, a trademark registration certificate on the supplemental register does not serve as evidence of validity, and the holder will be forced to introduce evidence in court as to the validity of the trademark.

Use in Commerce

When applying for a trademark on the principal trademark register, it is possible to present an application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office before the mark has actually been used in commerce. This is known as an intent-to-use application. However, there is a rule that any marks in supplemental register must actually be already used in commerce, so there are no intent-to-use applications on the supplemental register.

Protection

Marks on the principal trademark register are granted many protections not available to mark holders on the supplemental register. For example, principal mark holders have the ability to bring criminal charges against an infringer, and they may contact U.S. Customs in order to stop the importation of counterfeit goods. However, due to the limited protection granted to marks on the supplemental register, these marks don't have these types of privileges.

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What Is a Trademark's Duration?

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Trademark Laws for Company Logos

A trademark, such as a company's logo, is a design, phrase, or combination of the two that identifies your product to the buying public. Using your trademark in commerce gives you certain rights to use it exclusively, but additional protection is granted by law. Laws exist at the state, federal and international levels to help you protect your exclusive right to use your trademark.

How to Trademark a Title

A trademark or service mark may consist of any design, word or combination of words that identify the maker of a product or provider of a service. Logo symbols and brand names are commonly trademarked. You may acquire legal rights to a specific mark simply by using it in the normal course of commerce – this form of trademark is called a "common law" mark. Formal registration of your mark is not required but it offers considerable advantages. A mark can be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and/or the patent-office counterpart (usually the Secretary of State) of any state in which you plan to do business, but federal registration of a trademark with the USPTO provides the greatest protection available.

Difference Between a Logo & Trademark

Trademarks include company names, logos, slogans and designs used to identify and distinguish a company's goods in its business trade. The physical mark can be a word, sign, symbol or design that identifies the trademark owner. A trademark must be a unique identifying mark, specifically associated with the goods or services that a company offers in commercial trade. One type of trademark includes the company logo. A logo can qualify as a trademark -- if it meets the minimum requirements. To qualify as a trademark, a logo must be a unique mark used to identify and distinguish the company's goods or services offered in the marketplace. Strong logos often become easily recognizable trademarks throughout society.

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