US Trademark Registration: An Analysis of Principal Register and Supplemental Register
The US Trademark was is governed by federal law, the Lanham Act offers two separate Registers-
- Principal Register i.e. for “distinctive” trademarks
- b) Supplemental Register i.e. for “non distinctive trademarks” for registration of trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office
(“USPTO”). In this article we will briefly discuss about the two Registers for registration of trademark in United States. As a matter of fact, most trademark applications look for enrollment on the Principal Register. When an examining officer determines that a mark is merely descriptive and ineligible for registration on the Principal Register, the Supplemental Register may be a suitable alternative if the mark has been effectively been used in commerce. Now, let’s briefly understand about the two registers offered for US Trademark Registration. Brief Overview on Principal Register! This register deals with marks that are “distinctive” in nature, it is basically reserved for the most unique trademarks. Once you have enlistment on the principal register you are the presumed owner of that trademark in all 50 states. It is a fundamental of trademarks that an application will be forbidden if the mark lacks distinctiveness. That is, if a mark is determined to be “descriptive”, it is not entitled to the Principal register and instead must go on the Supplemental Register. The Principal Register is thought to be stronger as it provides several advantages and presumptions and the Madrid Protocol Applications can be based on principle register Trademarks. Hence, the example for the trademarks suitable for Principal Register are Adidas for shoes or Apple for phone as these marks has no meaning in relation to goods it is applied to. Brief Overview on Supplemental Register! The Lanham Act has explicit prerequisites for registration on the Supplemental Register to be met: (I) the mark should be used in commerce or in connection with the good or services noted in the application; and (ii) the mark can’t be qualified for enrollment on the Principal Register. A trademark on the Supplemental Register does not give the mark nationwide constructive notice in the registrant’s claim of ownership of the registered mark. This register is meant for “nondistincive” or descriptive trademarks. The Madrid Protocol applications cannot be based off of a supplemental register trademark. Further, after the trademark has been used and registered on the Supplemental Register for five consecutive years, the registrant can reapply on the Principal Register. Conclusion: The US Trademark Registration is unique as it provides two registers to provide a wider range of opportunity to register your mark. Both these registers have their own utility and corns. The Supplement Register being an additional option if the Examiner rejects registration on the Principal Register. And when an applicant obtains a Supplemental Registration, it is possible to obtain a registration on the Principal Register in the future based on the mark’s acquired distinctiveness. Hence, this distinction of registers have help the companies and individuals to protect their brand name with better protection of their trademark rights.