Did you know that there is a principal and supplemental registry where you can register your trademark? Registration on the Principal Register affords all rights and responsibilities available to trademark owners. However, there may be a time when an applicant may not be able to register on the Principal Register and the only option is registering on the Supplemental Register.
The question then becomes, what are the benefits and disadvantages of registering a trademark on the Supplemental Register with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)? Some benefits of registering on the Supplemental Register include the ability to use indicia of registration including “Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office”, “Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM. Off.”, and the “®” symbol. However, in a lawsuit, it is important to note, that no profits or damages will be recovered unless the other party attempting to use the mark (the defendant) had actual notice of the registration. A mark registered on the Supplemental Register will also provide notice to people conducting trademark searches and can serve as a bar to registration of subsequent marks which may be confusingly similar. If the mark has the potential to become distinctive through use in commerce, a mark registered on the Supplemental Register may apply once more for the Principal Register.
In the alternative, there are some disadvantages of registering a trademark on the Supplemental Register. Marks registered on the Supplemental Register do not receive the advantages of §§ 1051(b), 1052(e), 1052(f), 1057(b), 1057(c), 1062(a), 1063-1068, 1072, 1115, and 1124 of the Trademark Act. This means a mark registered on the Supplemental Register may not have the power to achieve incontestability of the mark, the mark does not have the right to exclusive use of the mark, may not have the ability to cancel the registration of another mark that may be similar to it, does not have the presumption of Federal ownership, and supplemental registration provides protection for only nondistinctive trademarks.
Once you decide to use the supplemental registry, what is the process of registering a trademark on the Supplemental Register? If the initial application to the Principal Register was denied with a “nonfinal Office action”, a trademark registration application can be amended to the Supplemental Register by filling out a “Response to Office Action” online form. If the initial rejection was denied with a “final Office action”, then the “Request for Reconsideration after Final Action” online form must be used. Unlike an application for the Principal Register, the mark must be in use by the time of application on the Supplemental Register.
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15 U.S.C.A. § 1091(a).
15 U.S.C.A. § 1111.
15 U.S.C.A. § 1092.
15 U.S.C.A. § 1095.
15 U.S.C.A. § 1094.
How to Amend from the Principal to the Supplemental Register, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, https://www.uspto.gov/trademark/laws-regulations/how-amend-principal-supplemental-register-1 (last visited Jan. 25, 2019).