Am I protected with a common law trademark – without federal registration?
Q: I recently started professionally my photographs in the US. I registered the copyright for photos and have decided on new name for my company. I think the name is pretty distinctive and I am not aware of anyone else selling a similar product by the same name. Do I have to register my company name as a trademark to prevent others from using it or can I rely on the laws concerning common law trademarks?
A: Kenneth’s answer: Since your mark is not registered you are limited to the common law trademark rights. Common Law Trademarks are generally limited in scope to the geographic area where the mark is known (think of a restaurant where everyone has heard of it in one town, but is unknown in another). Common law trademarks can be enforced (but not as well and as easily as registered marks) in both state and federal courts. In short, it depends on your long term business objectives. While registration may not be required for everyone, deciding what’s right requires actual consultation with people knowledgeable about trademarks.