Protecting your business’ intellectual property should be one of your top priorities when starting a business. It provides your company with security and a competitive advantage. Anyone creating a business in Arizona will have to register the name of the company with the Arizona Corporation Commission. This ensures that there is no other company in the state with the same name. However, many companies have a fictitious firm name or “doing business as” registered with their respective city or county. Overlapping names and logos can lead to some confusion with other Arizona businesses. Filing a trademark can protect your business from these scenarios and knowing the difference between a federal trademark and state trademark will help.
Filing a trademark with the federal government is more expensive, though there are many more benefits. However, is there a scenario where only an Arizona state trademark is required? This depends on where your Arizona entity will conduct business. If you are only doing business in Arizona, then you will qualify for a state trademark or service mark but not a federal trademark. If you plan to do business between states in the U.S. and/or a foreign country, you will qualify for a federal trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Another reason a business may decide to file a state trademark is perhaps they attempted to register a mark with the USPTO but were opposed by a company that seeks to stop all federal registrations containing a word the company sees as their own. Because the state system does not have an opposition period, there is a high likelihood your trademark will be filed if it isn’t already taken. This will provide your Arizona entity protection at the state level. However, Arizona business owners in this situation should consider the possibility of a trademark infringement lawsuit in the future, especially if they were opposed by an aggressive company at the federal level.
Many people and businesses overlook the possibility of state trademark protection. An Arizona business lawyer will be able to consult you on these intellectual property needs. State trademarks can give your business a level of protection you need especially when federal registration may not be available. It’s always best to consult with an attorney when these situations arise.