Frequently Asked Trademark Questions

Everyone who has a trademark that has not been federally registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), or anyone who has a trademark that they want to protect should register on Cognate.
Common law trademarks rights are the rights your business “earns” simply by using your marks in commerce in the U.S. Generally, the first party to use the mark on its product or service has a superior right to use the mark for their business over any other party that has adopted that mark, or filed a trademark application at a later date. These are often called "rights of first use".
No government registration (federal, state, county, etc.) is required to create common law rights in a trademark. You can make a record of your common law rights by registering your mark on Cognate.
There are many online tools that help you incorporate your business. Many businesses (especially startups) choose to incorporate in Delaware because of its friendly General Corporation Laws. If you want to incorporate your business in Delaware, check out Valcu, and use promo code “COGNATE25" for a 25% discount on the Valcu fee for the Valcu incorporation tool.
Cognate's proprietary algorithm monitors a variety of data sources, including the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office daily applications, which alerts you if someone is filing an application to register your exact mark. We'll send you an email that includes the mark, and the class of goods that were filed for.
Your common law rights are created through actual use (in commerce) of your trademark. Visit our actual use section for more information.
Actual use of a trademark occurs when you use your trademark in connection with your goods or services (with some caveats and conditions). For more information click here.
"In commerce" means in the course of doing business. If you are using a name to do business and identify a product or service, it is considered in commerce. Simple registration of a domain name is not "use in commerce" when there is no associated and active website.
  • Register Your Trademark Claim. You will fill out a form similar to those used by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and individual states for trademark registration.
  • Your mark is now registered in our database alongside over a million other marks, including federal, state, and common law trademarks. Most importantly this creates a public record in a centralized, searchable database that you claim ownership of trademark rights in your company name or mark – literally for the whole world to see. It also gives your business an increased online presence, and a SEO boost.
    Searching works similarly to listing. Create an account. Then search over a million business names.
    Cognate listings can be purchased on an annual ($39.95), or 5-year basis ($149.95). Check out our pricing page for more information. As soon as your listing is complete, your mark(s) will be added to our database, notifying others of your claim to your name, helping to establish an online presence for your brand, and creating a timeline of use of your mark.
    Your business name or the name of a product or service may in fact be a trademark, but not all names are trademarks. A school called "Elm Street School" is a name, but is not classified as a business and, therefore, is not a trademark. But any name that you use in commerce to identify your product or service is considered a trademark.
    Yes, assuming your Cognate listing is an accurate reflection of your common law rights. A common law trademark can have superior rights to a federal registration in certain circumstances. If the common law mark was used first, the owner of that mark could prevent another party from federally registering a similar mark if it would create confusion about the goods or services in question.
    Assuming your Cognate listing accurately reflects your common law rights, it is limited to the geographic region in which you use your mark, and may include areas into which you may "naturally expand."
    Yes. Listing your business name on Cognate will improve your chances of being found in trademark searches, while putting potential infringers on notice that you claim rights to your mark. Having a website helps in this regard, but you are passively hoping to be found in trademark searches, and likely won’t be found at all unless someone knows of your company or is searching for your exact mark. Take a more active approach by listing your mark on Cognate, which puts your name into our centralized, easily accessible database alongside over a million of other federal, state, and common law marks. Not to mention creating another online presence for your brand, giving it more authority, and boosting your SEO efforts.
    1. You're attempting to register a federal trademark. The federal trademark application requires a signed declaration from the applicant that "to the best of his/her knowledge and belief no other person, firm, corporation, or association has the right to use the mark in commerce..."
    2. It could save you money. And time, and aggravation down the road. Create a unique name and/or logo that identifies your product or service so that you won’t have to change it later if another party claims rights to the mark you chose. A conflict will cost you time, money, and any goodwill your brand had accumulated under the disputed name.
    Someone may have "common law" trademark rights simply by being the first to use a trademark in commerce, since neither federal nor state registration is required to earn common law rights. Someone with common law rights can challenge your use or registration of your trademark.
    Cognate allows you to make a claim to your existing trademark rights at a fraction of the cost and time of the existing alternatives. Starting and running a business is an enormous and costly undertaking. Don’t waste time and money on a more expensive service without listing and searching here first.
    Traditionally there have been two options for common law searching:
    1. Pay a search firm. The two biggest firms are Thomson and Corsearch. Search packages start around $250 and prices escalate quickly, especially if you want your results in less than 3 days.
    2. Hire a lawyer (or a "legal" website such as LegalZoom). This will also cost you hundreds of dollars. Many law firms will use one of the two companies above to conduct a search, and charge you on top of the search fees.
    You can search for federal trademarks on the USPTO website using their Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).