Trademark Registration: State Level

There are three types on a trademark registration – on a state level, federal level and international level. Let’s review what rights and protection each registration affords to the mark owners.

Trademark Registration – State Level State registration is a part of the government system, which protects trademarks in the United States. The rights and protections by a state’s trademark laws can be different between the states. Most states have implemented some version of the Model State Trademark Bill, which is similar to the federal trademark law. However, registration on the state level does not give such broad protection as a federal registration. So why anyone may want to register in a state rather than federally? There are pros and cons of both state registration and federal registration. Once the differences are reviewed with the assistance of a legal counsel, the choice is made based on the goals of mark owners.

State registration is done through a state office whereas federal registration is done through the U.S.P.T.O. State registration will typically take less time than federal registration. State registration is cheaper. It is usually $200 less for each registration than a federal one. The requirements for a mark will vary by state. To register a trademark, applicants have to file an application with the state trademark office accompanied by the specimen that accurately depicts the mark and a filing fee. Besides this general requirement, each individual state has its own specific rules and regulations about the application process. Fees and forms also vary by the state.

Once state registration is processed, an owner of the mark can use the TM symbol for a trademark and the SM symbol for a service mark to indicate to the general public that the word, logo, sign, etc. is taken. However, registration and protection of the trademark is local, which means if a mark is registered in a particular state, it will enjoy protection only in that state. State registration will not provide coverage in other states. Accordingly, it is best suited for small local businesses, which do not have plans to expand beyond the state borders and the use of a similar mark in other states by other market participants do not bother them. State registration allows them to protect their marks within the state for less money and time that is usually required for the federal registration. However, keep in mind that federal registration tops the state one. If someone registers the same mark on the federal level, potentially they may go after the state users to prohibit them from using a similar mark in commerce. State registration also does not prevent exportation of the goods under the same trademark and in case of the infringement the amount of claimed damages may be limited. Federal registration is undoubtedly provides wider protection than a state one. The only reason some people still do a state registration is because the process is simpler, quicker and cheaper. It is a balance of cost -benefit.

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