J. Thomas McCarthy
A nationally renowned authority on trademarks – said in his well-known legal treatise McCarthy on Trademarks and Unfair Competition: “it is almost impossible to find out with total certainty whether anyone has previously used a non-registered trade name in the United States such that every possible conflict can be foreseen in advance. Thus, even an expensive and extensive trademark search can only provide a conditional guarantee that no conflicts exist. But [any] search is better than no search at all.”
- Depending upon the geographic area you intend to do business in, conducting an extensive trademark search that includes non-registered trademarks may be unnecessary, but searching the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s database is always necessary.
- Absent a federal registration, trademark rights are geographically limited in scope. The rights in non-registered trademarks extend only to the geographic areas where the trademark is being used. A federal registration expands the geographic scope of trademark rights nationwide even if the trademark owner is not using the trademark in every part of the country.