Benefits of trademark registration
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  • June 6, 2014
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The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) is the agency of the U.S. government that registers patents and trademarks. The PTO has two separate registers for trademarks, the Principal Register and the Supplemental Register. Principal registration grants more benefits than supplemental registration, but some marks are not entitled to registration on the Principal Register.

For example, “merely descriptive” marks are ineligible for registration on the Principal Register without proof that consumers associate the mark with the source of the goods on which the mark is used. In trademark law, the ability of a mark to signify source is called “secondary meaning.” A mark that has “secondary meaning” trademark law refers to as “distinctive.” This is because a mark with “secondary meaning” distinguishes the source of the goods on which it is placed. “Merely descriptive” marks are not eligible for registration on the Principal Register because these marks describe the goods on which they are placed, rather than signifying the source of those goods. When Principal Registration is not available, Supplemental Registration may be a possibility. Supplemental registration is generally preferable to no registration at all. This is especially so because the PTO will refuse to register a mark that is confusingly similar to any previously pending or registered mark, including those on the Supplemental Register. Further, because most trademark searches begin at the PTO, registering one’s mark with the PTO will serve to notify anyone who searches the PTO’s records of one’s claim of ownership in its mark.

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