A California trademark provides trademark protection within the state of California. This may be useful for your business. Many people know they can register their mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, but fewer know California has a trademark registry.

California trademark protection helps you protect your brand in California.

California trademark protection may be an option for you.

Some Things To Know About A California Trademark

  • A California trademark is cheaper than a federal trademark. For example, filing a California trademark costs $70, and a national registration costs about $300.
  • A California trademark protects your brand in California. However, it doesn’t give you national protection.
  • A California trademark uses the same categories as federal marks. When registering a trademark, you register a trademark for a particular class of goods or services. California uses the same classifications as the USPTO. Therefore, if you have determined which category your product or service goes in for federal registration, you may be able to use the same one in California.
  • In some cases, a California trademark offers the only option for protecting your trademark. Especially where federal law prohibits the goods you seek to brand (for instance, federal law bars most marijuana-related trademarks). You will still want to conduct a trademark search before filing a trademark in California (or any other state) because California will often apply the same likelihood of confusion rules as the USPTO. The California Secretary of State might block your registration if you are not careful.
  • California does not allow “intent to use” trademark applications. You must use your trademark when you are applying for your registration.
Is a California trademark even the right choice for your business? It won’t be for every business. Most companies will be eligible for federal trademark registration, giving you more value. To find out the right path, schedule a free consultation with us.

How To Search For A California Trademark

To search for a California trademark, you can click here to access the trademark search engine via the California Secretary of State. However, do note that searching the California trademark database differs from doing a complete trademark search of federal trademark registrations.

Why Get A California Trademark?

A California trademark registration offers brand protection if you operate entirely within California. The state trademark does get you some security and makes your mark a matter of public record. This helps to build brand value.

To determine how a California trademark registration fits your overall brand protection strategy, it makes sense to speak to a trademark attorney to get honest and actionable advice.

What Is A Trademark Specimen?

Use a trademark specimen to prove that you use your trademark. As with federal trademark registrations, a California trademark application must include a specimen showing California use. Different types of businesses need different types of specimens.

Can You Use The ® Symbol for a California Trademark?

Typically, the ® symbol can only be used with federally-registered trademarks.

Why Choose A California Trademark Instead of a Federal Trademark?

You might choose to register a California trademark rather than a federal trademark.

First, registering a state trademark is generally quicker and less expensive than registering a federal trademark. The state trademark registration process can be completed in weeks, whereas the federal trademark registration process can take several months or even years. Additionally, the cost of registering a state trademark is typically lower than the cost of registering a federal trademark.

Second, a state trademark registration is only valid within California, whereas a federal trademark registration is valid throughout the United States. A state trademark registration may be sufficient for a business that only operates within California.

In summary, California business owners may choose to register a state trademark for its cheaper and faster process and its protection within the state.

Before choosing a California or federal trademark for your business, make sure you speak to a trademark attorney.

Special Note on Cannabis-Related Trademarks

California allows the registration of cannabis-related trademarks (as of this writing, cannabis remains largely illegal federally). That means that companies offering cannabis-related products may file for state trademark protection. While a California state trademark does not provide the same protection as federal trademark registration, it benefits certain businesses.

The State of California provides handy information about filing cannabis-related trademarks. However, we do recommend getting input from an attorney should you seek state protection for your brand.

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