Chapter 11

The Trademark Systems: How to Protect Your Mark


There are three trademark legal systems in the United States: common law, state, and federal. The abiding basis for trademark protection in the United States is ‘use in commerce.’ If a word, phrase, or image has been used, then common law rights attach. Common law refers to the legal decisions of judges based on equity or simple fairness. A common law system based on use is our departure point.

Trademark rights are acquired whenever and wherever a mark is adopted and affixed to a good or service employed in commerce for sale or given away. Even if you are unsuccessful in selling the product, trademark rights exist in connection with that good or service; the fact that the offer is made ...

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