Iowa intellectual property lawyer Brett Trout offers a trademark law primer today on IowaBiz.com. Brett points out that companies seeking to protect their trademarks should consider federal registration of those marks for valuable trademark protection. He says,
Once you start using your trademark in commerce, you obtain what are known as "common law" trademark rights. Common law trademark rights can be effective in obtaining an injunction or a judgment against someone infringing your trademark, but they do not provide all of the benefits associated with state or federal trademark registration.
Every state provides for both registration and enforcement of trademark rights. While these state protections involve a small cost, they typically offer little more protection than common law rights. Accordingly, most companies opt for either free common law protection or much more valuable federal law protection. Federal trademark registration involves governmental and attorney fees of approximately $1,200 and about an eighteen month wait.
I agree with Brett. Many Iowa businesses fail to register their marks or file the mark only with the Iowa Secretary of State. Federal registration offers several advantages and should be considered.