Janet Cho and Christel Harlacher from the firm of Williams Mullen published a piece on Trademark rights that’s worth giving a once over and bookmarking. Especially for those new to domaining who sometimes have the wrong impression of trademark rights.
The post titled: Ten Trademark Myths and How They Can Hurt Your Business clears up some misconceptions that those without a background in intellectual property tend to have.
From the article:
8. I need a registration in order to “trademark” a mark (or acquire rights in it).
In the United States, trademark rights arise with use of the mark in the marketplace. Hence, once you start using your trademark to promote your goods and services, this is when you acquire trademark rights. A trademark registration—while granting useful benefits—is not the mechanism through which you acquire trademark rights. This is not necessarily the case in other countries, where trademark rights do not exist if a party has not registered its mark. The benefits of trademark ownership include: a) the ability to use the ® registration symbol; b) the legal presumption that you own your mark; c) the ability to preclude others from registering a similar mark as Examining Attorneys at the USPTO will check the UPSTO Register for confusingly similar marks; and d) you may rely upon your registration in the United States as the basis for trademark filings in other jurisdictions internationally.