The contract nature of trademarks is similar to that of a patent. The public, via its trademark laws at various levels, makes it possible to protect manufacturers (and service providers and others) from unscrupulous imitators who would pass off their goods as coming from the original manufacturer. In exchange, the public receives a usually reliable guide for selecting products and services that it admires for their quality and usefulness. Trademarks can be enforced at common law without registration and can even be enforced in local areas by state trademarks. Since most modern businesses operate over a broader geographical area than a single state, there is a substantial incentive for them to obtain federal registration. ...

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