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Consider the following statement:

Registration gives you [Person A] the right to use your trademark nationwide. That right is limited if someone else [Person B] was using the same mark in a particular geographic area before you applied for registration. In that case, the person who was using the mark first has priority over your registration, but only in the geographic area in which he sells his goods or services.

Does this mean I can establish a de facto trademark by using the "TM" symbol without bothering to register it?

In other other words, let's say I use the trade name Dizzy DuckTM for a few years before someone else comes along and officially registers the same trade name, "Dizzy Duck."

Am I correct in understanding that they won't be allowed to register "Dizzy Duck," because I'm already using it (a la TM)?

Part of the confusion (for me) lies in the question of how anyone is supposed to know that I'm using a trade name if it isn't officially registered. The name Dizzy Duck shouldn't be in the USPTO's register of trade names, if it isn't officially registered.

Also, if Dizzy Duck is stamped on merchandise sold via Amazon and through mail order via my website, then it wouldn't just be a "local" name. Shouldn't it be protected nationwide (and worldwide)?

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Does this mean I can establish a de facto trademark by using the "TM" symbol without bothering to register it?

Not exactly. Your common-law trademark would be both de facto and de jure and would exist even in the absence of the "TM" symbol. The purpose of the symbol is to put people on notice that you consider it to be a trademark; whether it is or isn't depends on what it is (it must be distinctive) and how it's used (it must identify goods or services).

Am I correct in understanding that they won't be allowed to register "Dizzy Duck," because I'm already using it (a la TM)?

No.

They can register it and the can use it everywhere in the country except where it conflicts with your common-law trademark in both geographic reach and industry.

If your trademark is for tourism services in Chicago then they can use theirs in Chicago for everything but tourism and for tourism everywhere but Chicago.

Also, if Dizzy Duck is stamped on merchandise sold via Amazon and through mail order via my website, then it wouldn't just be a "local" name. Shouldn't it be protected nationwide (and worldwide)?

"Local" is local to your goods and services - if Dizzy Duck is a known brand nation or worldwide, then "local" is the nation or the world.

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