Greetings. I’m trademark attorney Josh Gerben, and I would like to talk a little bit about the difference between the principal and the supplemental register. The principal and the supplemental register are the two registers that you could actually end up on when you file a trademark application. It is what it sounds like. You’d rather be on the principal register.
The principal register is a register that is reserved for the most unique trademarks. It basically says that once you have a registration on the principal register that you are the presumed owner of that trademark in all 50 states. So if you walk into a court of law and there is a lawsuit, you are the presumed owner. It is someone’s duty in the lawsuit to have to rebut that presumption, and they would have to prove that for some reason you’re not the owner. It’s very hard to do that. So when you have a principal register registration, you’re in really good shape.
Now, how do you get on the principal register? The one way you can do it is your trademark has to be unique. When I say “unique,” it can be a made-up word, like Kodak or Nike, or it can be a word that’s very common in the English language, but doesn’t have a lot to do with your product, for example Apple for computers. The more your trademark describes your product or service, the less likely you’re going to get on the principal register, and this is why the supplemental register exists. It’s not that the supplemental register is bad.