If you are an individual or a business entity that is using or is willing to use a mark in relation to your business you have probably thought about registering the mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. An application to register a trademark can be made only if the applicant’s situation falls under one of the grounds for registration specified by the Lanham Act, also known as the Trademark Act of 1946. The Lanham Act provides four different bases for registering a trademark.
Registration Based On Prior Actual Use Of The Mark In Commerce
Pursuant to the Lanham Act, the owner of a trademark used in commerce may request registration of its trademark on the principal register. 15 U.S.C. 1051(a)(1). This section of the Lanham Act gives a right to individuals and business entities to register a trademark if they have actually used it in commerce.
The Section 45 of the Lanham Act defines “use in commerce” as a “…bona fide use of a mark in the ordinary course of trade and not merely to reserve a right in the mark.” 15 U.S.C 1027. For goods, the use in commerce requires (a) placement of the mark on the goods, their containers, the displays associated with goods, the tags or labels affixed to goods or, if such placement is impracticable because of the nature of the goods, on documents associated with goods or their sale, and (b) that the goods be sold or transported in commerce. Id. For services, the use in commerce requires that the mark be used or displayed in the sale or advertising of services and that the services be rendered in commerce. Id.
Pursuant to this basis for registration, the applicant must first use the mark in commerce. Once the mark is used in commerce the applicant can file the application to register the trademark.
Intent To Use Application
The Lanham Act also allows filing an application for registration if the applicant has a bona fide intention to use the mark in commerce. 15 U.S.C. 1051(a)(2). Here, the applicant has not used the mark in commerce yet, however, he has a bona fide intention to make such use in future. The bona fide intent requirement means that there must be an actual intent to use a mark and evidence objectively demonstrating such intent. Aktieselskabet AF 21. November 2001 v. Fame Jeans Inc. (2008) 525 F.3d 8, 21.
It should be noted, that although the Lanham Act allows to file the intent to use application before using the mark in commerce, the registration of the mark will not be granted unless the applicant files a proof that he has used the mark in commerce. After filing the statement of use application, if the mark is registrable and no successful opposition is filed, the US Patent and Trademark Office will issue a notice of allowance which will give the applicant time to file a statement showing that the mark was used in commerce.
The applicant has a maximum of thirty six month after the date of issuance of the notice of allowance to show the actual use of the mark in commerce. The applicant shall comply with this requirement by filing the statement of use application with evidence showing the use of the mark in commerce. Only after filing the proper statement of use application the applicant can obtain the actual registration of the trademark.
Applications By Foreign Nationals With A Foreign Application Or Registration
Pursuant to the Section 44 of the Lanham Act, if a foreign national’s country of origin is a party to an international trademark treaty signed by the United States, and if he has or has applied for trademark registration in the foreign country, the foreign national with a bona fide intent to use the trademark in US can file an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to register the same trademark. 15 U.S.C. 1126.
This section of the Lanham Act is intended to give privilege to nationals of foreign countries who have entered the same international trademark treaties with the US. This basis gives an opportunity to foreign nationals to register a trademark if they already have a registration or application in their home country. It should also be noted that in this case the applicant does not have to show the actual use of the mark in the US in order to obtain registration of the mark. If the applicant has bona fide intent to use the trademark in the US and he already has a registration or application in his home country that will suffice for registering the mark in the US.
Application To Extend The Protection To The United States Under The Madrid Protocol
“[T]he holder of an international registration shall be entitled to the benefits of extension of protection of that international registration to the United States to the extent necessary to give effect to any provision of the Madrid Protocol.” 15 U.S.C. 1141E(a). This section of the Lanham Act is intended to enforce the provisions of the Madrid Protocol which is designed to facilitate the registration of trademarks in several nations.
This basis gives an opportunity to applicants who have international registration pursuant to the Madrid protocol to extend the protection of the mark to the US. It should be noted that the applicant does not have to show actual use of the mark in the US for the extension of protection. The international registration of the mark and the applicant’s bona fide intent to use the mark in the US will be enough for registering the mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
If your situation falls under one of the four bases for registration described above you can consider registering your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
If you have questions regarding trademarks or even trademark infringement, give us a call and speak to one of our experienced Glendale business law attorneys.
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