What Is The USPTO Supplemental Register?

The USPTO Supplemental Register is a secondary trademark register managed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The Supplemental Register catalogs trademarks that have not yet qualified for the full protections of the USPTO Principal Register but where the owners have declared exclusive rights to their use in commerce.

While trademarks listed on the Supplemental Register do not enjoy the same level of legal protection as those on the Principal Register, they still offer certain benefits. For instance, owners are permitted to use the federal trademark registration ® symbol. This symbol acts as a public declaration of the trademark claim, offering a degree of protection by notifying others about the owner’s rights.

Additionally, being on the Supplemental Register can be beneficial as a transitional phase towards achieving registration on the Principal Register. Owners can demonstrate the use of their trademarks in commerce with the supplemental registration. Moreover, following five years of continuous use, these trademarks may qualify for a claim of “acquired distinctiveness“. This status can pave the way for their acceptance onto the Principal Register.

Typically, the Supplemental Register accommodates trademarks that directly describe the associated goods or services but have begun to attain a secondary meaning in the marketplace due to their use in commerce. For example, the phrases “Baked Fresh” for bakery products or “Quick Dry” for apparel might qualify for this register.

In summary, the USPTO Supplemental Register offers trademark owners a valuable opportunity to solidify their trademark rights while working towards the comprehensive trademark protections afforded by the Principal Register.

What Are The Trademark Benefits Of The Supplemental Register?

Registering a trademark on the USPTO Supplemental Register holds significant importance for trademark owners, especially when full registration on the Principal Register is not immediately possible. Here’s why it’s beneficial:

Legal Recognition: Trademarks on the Supplemental Register are officially acknowledged by the USPTO. This grants trademark owners the legal right to use the ® symbol. This symbol serves as a public notification of their trademark claim, enhancing the trademark’s credibility and asserting the owner’s rights.

Evidence of Use in Commerce: Registration on the Supplemental Register documents the use of a trademark in commerce. This is crucial as it can support a future claim of acquired distinctiveness. This evidence is essential when owners seek to transition their registration to the Principal Register, which offers more robust protection.

Deterrence Against Infringement: While the protection is not as comprehensive as that offered by the Principal Register, being on the Supplemental Register still provides a legal basis to challenge infringing uses. The registration acts as a public declaration of ownership, which can deter potential infringers and reduce the likelihood of trademark disputes.

Enhanced Brand Recognition: The acknowledgment of a trademark by the USPTO and the ability to use the ® symbol can significantly boost a brand’s recognition and credibility. This can be particularly valuable in competitive markets, helping to attract and retain customers by signaling established trademark rights.

Pathway to Principal Register: The Supplemental Register can be an important interim step towards achieving full trademark rights on the Principal Register. After maintaining a continuous use of the trademark in commerce for five years, owners may file for a claim of acquired distinctiveness. This claim, if accepted, allows the trademark to be moved to the Principal Register, thus securing the highest level of trademark protection available.

In essence, the Supplemental Register offers a strategic advantage for trademark owners, enabling them to protect and strengthen their trademark rights while they build the necessary credentials for Principal Register eligibility. This can be a crucial component in a comprehensive trademark strategy, especially for newer brands or those using descriptive marks.

Contact Our Charleston Trademark Attorneys

Are you launching a new company or developing a new brand or product and need to clear and/or register a trademark? Are you an online seller enrolling in a brand registry program, such as Amazon Brand Registry? Are you looking for help with another state or federal trademark matter? We can assist! We invite you to contact our law firm by giving us a call or completing our online contact form.  We make every effort to respond to all inquiries within one business day.


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