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J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library

Patents & Trademarks

Why Register Your Trademark?

A trademark does not have to be federally registered in order to be protected. In most cases, just having a history of using a trademark provides "common-law" protections.

So, why bother with the time and money involved in federally registering a trademark?


  • Only federally registered trademarks get to use the ® symbol, which indicates that your trademark is federally registered and reduces the chance that another business or individual will adopt a similar trademark.
  • Your trademark will appear in a search of the USPTO trademark database, which will also reduce the chance that another business or individual will adopt a similar trademark. Additionally, the USPTO will reject the application of a trademark too similar to yours.
  • Federal registration allows the trademark holder to recover up to triple damages and attorneys’ fees from an infringer.

Searching for US Trademarks

Trademark information videos

USPTO trademarks database

  • To search design marks, look up the symbols or images you want to use in your design in the Design Code Search Manual to find the correct image codes to search.

State of Michigan Trademarks

Trademark registration can also be acquired at the state level. State registration is only suitable for business that is conducted entirely in-state. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), within the Secretary of State's office, manages trademark registration for the state of Michigan.

State of Michigan trademarks page