QUESTION: Are you required to file a trademark to protect a name? If I start using a name for a product in commerce, does that give me any protection? Or is the only way to protect the name to file a formal trademark application?
ANSWER: No. You have trademark rights upon using the name, such as by placing the name on your product or by placing your name on your website if you offer services. However, federal registration of a trademark can provide additional benefits, such as a presumption of validity of your trademark and notice to the public of your trademark rights.