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Intellectual Property Protection

Does Registration of a Legal Entity with the Secretary of State Provide Trademark Protection?

No, mere registration of the name of a legal entity does not afford trademark protection. A company or individual may acquire rights in a mark as soon as the mark is used in commerce in connection with goods or services, so long as the mark does not infringe on a senior mark. Thus, if the name of the legal entity is also used as a trademark or brand in commerce in connection with goods and services, rights in the mark have likely been acquired. These rights in what we would call an unregistered mark are typically limited to the geographic area where the mark is used. A federally protected mark, on the other hand, has the potential for national protection.

Similarly, mere domain name registration without more does not constitute trademark use. Trademark use requires use of the mark in commerce in connection with the intended goods and services. For example, a domain name that leads to an active website on which the mark is displayed and on which goods and services are described might establish use. Note that goods require more for use of a mark to be established on a website, i.e., a point of sale display.


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