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Trademark Myth #1: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will enforce trademark rights

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office exists to review and process (or deny) applications for Federal patent or trademark protection. This does NOT mean that the PTO prevents others from using registered trademarks. Rather, the PTO will refuse to register applications when they contain a word, design or other element which another party has already registered. Even actions before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board only affect the universe of pending trademark applications and trademark registrations. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board considers actions to oppose pending applications and cancel existing registrations.

None of these actions affect use in “real life.” In order to prevent a third party from using marks that belong to an individual or company (even if a Federal trademark registration has been issued), one must take action directly against the infringer. If the party is non-responsive to informal actions like cease and desist letters, the matter must be escalated to litigation. Only a court may issue an injunction that will prevent a party from using trademarks that belong to someone else.


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