Spoiler Alert: Principal is the Preference
When it comes to registering your trademark, not all forms or registration are created equal. When you register your trademark you will fall into either the principal registrar or the supplemental registrar. Your goal is to have your trademark end up on the principal registrar.
The principal registrar provides your trademark with the greatest amount of protection under the law. Filings end up on the supplemental registrar instead because they are too descriptive, geographical in nature, or not unique enough. In this blog, we’re going to give you the details on principal vs supplemental trademark registration- and why they’re both better than common law.
Principal Vs Supplemental Trademark Registration
The biggest benefit of being on the principal vs supplemental trademark registration is that you have incontestability on your side after using the trademark for 7 years. If there was an infringement dispute, whoever does not own the registration mark carries the burden. In other words: You can’t be challenged (easily) on a principal trademark. In fact, the principal registrar entitles you to a formal legal announcement to the business community that your assets have been trademarked. On the supplemental registrar, that sort of benefit doesn’t exist. Instead, your trademark protection is most similar to those under common law rights.
Don’t Common Law It
There will always be those who decide to try and fly under the radar. You shouldn’t settle for common low. Having some registration is better than having none at all. The benefit of being on the supplemental registrar rather than settling for common law protection is that you’re able to sue in a federal court if your intellectual property is infringed. With a supplemental registration, you have legal remedies available to you.
Through common law, your brand doesn’t have full protection. It won’t matter if you had your idea first. Whoever followed formality first will win in court. You don’t have the same legal remedies as someone with formal registration.
The bottom line is that if you’ve created something of value and you’d like to protect it, formally register it with the US Patent and Trademark office. Consult an expert before filing and do all your research to make sure your trademark ends up on the principal registrar.