State Trademark Or Federal Trademark: Which One Is Right For You?

If you want to register a trademark, you have two options: you can do so with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or with your state. 

State trademark registration is simple and inexpensive, whereas federal trademark registration is more difficult and expensive. Federal registration, on the other hand, provides significantly more protection. It’s critical to understand the distinctions before deciding which is best for you.  

State Trademark Registration  

You must apply with the state trademark office to register a trademark in your state. Although the criteria differ by state, you must generally fill out a form, submit a specimen and/or design of your trademark, and pay a filing fee that ranges from $50 to $75 for each class of products or services registered. Typically, you can’t apply for a state trademark until you’ve used the mark for a while.  

You already have certain common law trademark rights if you use your mark in commerce. Registering your trademark with the state won’t provide you with much further protection. State registration, on the other hand, creates a record of the date you first used your mark, which can be useful if you are accused of trademark infringement or wish to prevent someone else from using a mark that is similar to yours.  

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There are a few things to keep in mind when registering a state trademark:  

  • State trademark registration protects your trademark solely in the state where it is registered.  
  • It is less expensive to register a trademark with the state than it is to register with the USPTO. Each registration will normally save you at least $200.  
  • A state trademark registration is normally completed and authorized faster than a federal trademark registration.  
  • The right to use the sign ® does not come with state trademark registration. For a trademark, you can use TM, and for a service mark, you can use SM.  

Federal Trademark Registration  

To register a trademark with the USPTO, fill out a form with the following information: the mark’s owner’s name, the type of mark, a drawing and specimen of the mark, a description of the goods or services the mark is used for, and the class they fall into, and a filing basis. A filing fee of $275-$375 for each class of goods or services is also required.  

An examining attorney will be assigned to your trademark application. If the attorney finds problems with your application, you may be sent an office action to which you must reply before your registration may proceed. The processing time for a federal trademark application might range from several months to many years.  

Due to the complexities of the federal trademark process, you may require legal assistance. The cost of registration will be increased by legal fees.  

While federal trademark registration is certainly more time-consuming and costly than state trademark registration, federal trademark registration provides far more benefits and protection.  

The benefits of federal trademark registration include:  

  • Registration establishes a legal presumption that you own the trademark and have the right to use it throughout the United States for the goods or services listed in the registration.  
  • State registration is inferior to federal registration. If a federally registered trademark was in use before a state registered trademark, the federal registrant has the right to prevent the state trademark owner from using it. If the state mark was first used, the use of the mark may be limited to the state in which it was registered.  
  • The ® emblem can be used to alert others to your trademark rights.  
  • A trademark infringement lawsuit can be filed in federal court.  
  • To prevent infringing products from being imported, you can register a trademark with the United States Customs and Border Protection Service.  
  • You can apply for foreign trademark registrations using your USPTO trademark registration as a foundation.  
  • Your trademark will be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This makes your mark visible to the public and may dissuade others from using it.  
  • You can apply a mark that you intend to use but haven’t yet used, but the mark won’t be registered until you start using it.  

You may protect your brand and intellectual property by registering a trademark. While federal registration provides many more benefits, if you’re tight on cash and don’t plan to do business outside of your state, you might choose state registration instead. If you’re not sure which option is ideal, a trademark attorney can assist you.