Establishing Trademark Rights
Trademark rights in a band‘s name or logo.
Generally, the first to either use the name or logo in connection with a band or musical group or
file an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has the ultimate right to use
and registration. However, once registered, the trademark owner is provided additional rights.
If you’ve only used the name for your band within a limited area, you only have “priority” within that limited geographic area. However, without federal registration the trademark, you could not stop
other bands from using that name elsewhere in the country.
If you distribute your music or tour out of state or nationally, or intend to do so in the future, you can protect your band‘s name throughout the entire U.S.A. with federally registered trademark.
A prior user may still have rights in a given area, but would not be able to use that name outside of their own state or risk being sued for infringement.
A trademark application can be filed based on either actual use or an intent to use:
Use in Commerce
Use in commerce means a real use of the trademark, in interstate commerce. For an application
based on actual use, the trademark name or logo would need to be used or displayed in the sale or advertising of live performances, CDs or merchandise.
Intent to Use
If you have not yet used the trademark but plan to do so in the future – you may file based on a good faith intent to use the mark in commerce. You do not have to use the name for the band before you
file your application. You are “reserving” that trademark for future use and must then either use it in commerce or file for an extension.