From reading on the USPTO website, a trademark seems to go through a standard series of stages: filing, examination, publication, registration.

At what point can the individual who filed the trademark sue someone for infringing it; the filing date? The final registration date?

If a hypothetical company was infringing this trademark for a period of time after the filing date, but before the final registration date they ceased completely, could this company be sued?

2 Answers 2


You have a trademark before it is registered, even before the registration process is started, by the fact that you are using the name. Therefore you can sue at any time. The defendant will find it easier to avoid damages because they were not aware of your trademark. The plaintiff will find it harder to prove the existence of the trademark. But in principle, you can be sued at any time.

If you are aware that someone filed for a trademark, unless you have good reasons to believe that the filing will be refused (for example because you object to it), don't use that trademark.

  • Hey @gnasher729, thanks for your answer. How about the case where it's a foreign company that's in the process of registering a trademark?
    – amorimluc
    Aug 7, 2017 at 16:07
  • Unless you run into a biased judge, where a company is incorporated doesn't make a difference.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 7, 2017 at 19:16
  • A foreign company may have the US priority date of its application, based upon its foreign application, and may not be required to have "actual use" in the USA in order to enforce it. The filing date is "constructive date of first use" in the USA.
    – Upnorth
    Aug 8, 2017 at 22:47

The owners of a trademark may enforce its inherent rights in state or federal courts from the moment they have used it as a distinctive brand on goods or services in commerce. Registration in the USA is completely optional but serves to establish a "preemption priority date" as of the date of filing, as pertinent to the state or federal statutes for registration. The owners obviously have the burden of proving damages arising from the infringing use or proving a basis for injunctive relief.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .