Filing a Federal Trademark Application FAQ

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What types of trademarks are ineligible for federal registration?

The USPTO won't register any marks that contain:

  • names of living persons, unless they have given their consent
  • the U.S. flag
  • other federal and local governmental insignias
  • the name or likeness of a deceased U.S. President, unless his widow has given consent, or 
  • words or symbols that disparage living or deceased persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols.

Nor is the USPTO supposed to register marks that are judged immoral, deceptive, or scandalous. As a general rule, however, the USPTO takes a liberal view of the terms "immoral" and "scandalous" and will rarely refuse to register a mark on those grounds.

In addition, the USPTO will not register marks that are used only in one state; a trademark must be used to offer good or services for sale in more than one state to qualify for federal trademark protection.

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