To gain trademark rights all you have to do is begin using the trademark. From the day that you begin using a trademark, you garner trademark rights without doing any more than using the trademark. This is referred to common law trademarks rights.
Common law trademark rights give your superior exclusive rights to the trademark name, above all others henceforth in the area that you are doing business. However, common law trademarks rights are limited to the area in which you do business.
Common law trademarks rights are limited to the area in which you do business.
To get trademark rights beyond the area in which you do business, you must register the trademark with the USPTO [United States Patent and Trademark Office]. A USPTO trademark registration precludes anyone from using your trademark nationally post the registration even if you are not doing business nationally. In addition, upon a USPTO registration, an infringer of your mark will be liable for greater damages including attorney fees.
A USPTO trademark registration precludes anyone from using your trademark nationally post the registration.
The limits of common law trademark rights are being tested in a recent case reported to the Credit Union Times. The Red River Bank has filed a trademark infringement complaint against Red River Federal Credit Union [FCU]. For years Red River Bank established 1999 in Louisiana and Red River FCU established 2008 in Texas coexisted without complaint. Then Red River FCU acquired branches in Louisiana and Mississippi. This was too close for comfort. As reported in the Credit Union Times Red River Bank’s complaints states:
“RRB [Red River Bank] has received numerous inquiries from members of Shreveport Federal Credit Union and the community at large regarding their belief that RRB [Red River Bank] has taken over Shreveport Federal Credit Union.”
If you have an expansion plan or if you want to protect your name beyond the common law, a federal trademark is a must.