5 Things To Know About Tennessee Trademarks

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1.) TN 42, US 17. Did you know that you might be better off with a state trademark over a federal trademark? Unlike copyrights and patents, trademarks can be registered under both state law (via the TN Secretary of State) and federal law (via the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office). Generally, Tennessee’s trademark law (i.e. the Tennessee Trademark Act of 2000) gives you the same means as federal law (i.e. the Lanham Act) to protect and enforce your trademark against others, only in state court instead of federal court. Best of all, it’s much cheaper and faster to register in Tennessee than the USPTO. If you’re primarily located in Tennessee and mostly market to Tennessee clients or customers, a Tennessee trademark could be a better bet over a federal mark.


2.) No Shotguns. Did you know that there’s a difference in federal law and state law concerning proof of use? Unlike the federal application, a Tennessee trademark cannot be reviewed under an “intent-to-use” basis (i.e. I haven’t launched yet but want to reserve this name before someone else gets it). Fortunately, the TN Secretary of State accepts screen shots so you can typically file your application the same day of a digital launch.


3.) Domino! Did you know that someone who’s intentionally milking or messing with your brand locally could be on the hook for big bucks? With a Tennessee trademark, someone who is intentionally trying to debunk your reputation or exploit your mark could be liable to you for triple the dollar amount of damages they’ve caused you or profits they’ve obtained resulting from infringement.


4.) Time is Money. Did you know that obtaining a Tennessee trademark can be less hassle than setting up a Quickbooks account? Tennessee trademark applications are processed quickly, often in about 1/75th the time it takes to process and issue a federal application. That amounts to an easily obtainable asset, one that could even be collateralized in a loan or financing.


5.) Cake’s Awesome but You Still Have to Bake it. Did you know that a trademark protection requires an ongoing commitment to your mark? Once you obtain your registered mark, you’re not done. While you won’t have a maintenance fee to worry about for several years, trademark holders have to police the market for unauthorized use and maintain certain quality control standards for products and services associated with the mark. The policing requirement can usually be accomplished through one or two hours of attorney or dedicated staff hours a month, and the quality control standards can usually be observed through careful contracting and operations.


A Tennessee trademark is an underappreciated asset for your growing business. Give us a call today to learn more about obtaining protection for your business and brands.  


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