If the use of your trademark is merely intrastate (i.e., within the State of Illinois or within the city of Chicago), you can apply for state registration with the Illinois Secretary of State’s Trademark Division. A state trademark registration offers added protection to the common law rights associated with the trademark. The state trademark registration is also usually faster and less expensive than the USPTO federal registration; but, you get what you pay for, and federal registration should always be sought when authorized.
What “Use” Requirements Must Be Met To Register A Trademark With the USPTO?
The Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (TMEP) outlines the definition of “interstate commerce” in the context of trademark law. According to the TMEP, interstate commerce refers to commerce between two or more states within the United States or between the United States and a foreign country. This encompasses not only the sale and transportation of goods but also the rendering of services.
For a trademark to qualify for registration, its use must be in interstate commerce, which signifies that the trademark is involved in commercial transactions or activities that cross state lines or international borders. This can include instances such as selling products online to customers in other states, offering services to clients from different states, or transporting goods across state lines.
The “interstate commerce” criteria encompass several aspects:
Use in Commerce: The trademark must be actively used in the ordinary course of trade, and not just reserved for potential future use. This means that the trademark should be visibly associated with the products or services it represents.
Bona Fide Intent to Use: If the trademark is not yet in use at the time of filing, the applicant must have a genuine intention to use the trademark in commerce in the near future. This intent must be supported by documentary evidence, if requested by the USPTO.
Specimen of Use: When filing a trademark application, the applicant must provide a specimen of use, demonstrating how the trademark is used in connection with the goods or services. This could be a photograph of the trademark on product packaging, a screenshot of a website featuring the trademark, or other materials that clearly show the trademark’s use in commerce.
Interstate or International Commerce: The use of the trademark must involve commerce that crosses state lines or international borders. This can include selling products online to customers in other states or countries, offering services to clients from different states, or transporting goods across state lines.
Meeting these “interstate commerce” legal requirements is essential for a successful trademark registration with the USPTO.