State of the state
The Actual Confusion blog reports something that, well, I think is at least likely to cause confusion:
This morning I was pleasantly suprised to find out that the Puerto Rico Trademark Office (PRTO) launched its online registration portal. Practitioners can now file TM registrations online, easing up their schedules, paper costs and painful trips to the Department of State.
Si, pero… ¡no!
You can’t talk about state trademark “registration” without reminding people–including “practitioners,” some of whom could use a lot more practice–what a state (um, sorry Puerto Rico… but you get my point)–trademark “registration” is, and isn’t! I think good old Mark Law does a good job explaining it:
[T]he process for registering a mark federally is more extensive, rigorous and time-consuming than it is for state registrations. Some companies that can’t afford federal trademark protection, and may find they are sufficiently served with a state trademark registration if they operate solely within one state and have no plans for expansion. With the growth of the Internet and the rise in nationwide commerce, many businesses find they are better off with federal, as opposed to state, trademark registrations. However, you should speak with an attorney licensed to practice law in your individual state to determine whether or not a state trademark registration makes sense for your particular business.
I have been saying this for years: With the possible exception of helping you make some sort of “record” of the assertion, at least, of some sort of claim, and the more likely exception of the benefit of one state’s trademark statute in rare cases, state trademark registration is mainly a fund raiser for your local state or commonwealth. For the registrant, however, it is more often than not a waste of time and money. Or it’s something worse, because businesses that are poorly advised, and those that don’t remember the advice they were given, often believe they have something in terms of trademark protection when they pretty much have very, very little.
If you’re reading this on the Intertubes right now, a state trademark registration isn’t enough for you.
UPDATE: Not that I’m saying trademark registration is itself the be-all and end-all, and all.