What is a common law trademark?

Photo of Jan Buza

Written by Jan Buza

Co-founder of Trama

Common law trademark rights are held and obtained by businesses that simply use the trademark first. Even though obtaining common law trademarks might seem easier, enforcing them is much more demanding. Also, using a common law trademark is possible only in a certain geographical area.

This geographical implication might be especially tricky in the US. For example, if you open a store in Florida with a certain name, this name would be protected under common law in Florida. But if someone decided to open a store with an identical name, for example, in Texas, they could do this without infringing on your rights.

Registration on the federal level offers more advantages, such as the right to use the ® sign, the right to sue infringers, and generally making your mark more recognizable as a trademark protected by law.

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