The supplemental register allows for certain marks that don’t have the distinctiveness required to be registered on the principal register (the “main” register), but still have the capacity to gain distinctiveness through use. One main, but now mostly outdated, purpose for the supplemental register is to give U.S. copyright owners a chance to get a domestic registration so that they could be eligible for foreign trademark protection, but most foreign countries have abandoned the prerequisite domestic registration. Another important feature of the supplemental register is that it serves as a searchable public record for marks that are in commercial use.
So, while being on the supplemental register does not allow a mark to become incontestable (discussed in another article here), it can prevent other confusingly similar marks from also getting registered on the principal and the supplemental register. So, as long as you’re the first one there, you can at least stop people from diluting or genericizing your mark and help it gain a secondary meaning!
LEARN MORE: What Every Brand Owner Needs To Know About Filing a Trademark Application & Four Reasons Why Not Having a Registered Trademark Can Cost You Big Money
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Randal Robinson is an intellectual property lawyer. Randal focuses his practice on the prosecution and litigation of trademarks.