A trademark is any word, symbol, sound or other “device” (or any combination of the foregoing) that identifies and distinguishes a source of goods or services of one party from those of others. Trademarks, and the goodwill they represent, are intangible assets and can be enormously valuable to the companies that own them.
Generally, trademark rights accrue with use of the actual mark; as such, they are rightfully owned by the party first using it for the respective goods and/or services. This principle has long been recognized at common law and is often referred to as “superior rights.”
Since trademark rights accrue with use as a matter of common law and are statutorily recognized under the federal Lanham Trademark Act, see, e.g., 15 U.S.C. §1125 (civil liability for false designations of origin, importation, false descriptions, and dilution of marks), one may question why time and expense should be expended towards registering a mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “USPTO”). The straight answer is that that trademark registration confers substantial benefits and legal presumptions under the law, as specifically set forth in the Lanham Act.