In the new Legal Forum Column, John W. Scruton discussed trademark law. Read his advice below and don’t miss our monthly Legal Forum Column in Louisville Business First.

Question

What does the recent Court of Appeals clarification of federal trademark law mean for my business?

Answer

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently clarified that the federal law governing trademarks has a very broad reach, and does not require activity across state lines.

The Lanham Act allows federal registration of trademarks that are used “in commerce.” Like many federal laws, the Lanham Act is based on Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce, which many practitioners believed required that sales be made across state lines to support registration. The Act defines “commerce” as “all commerce which may lawfully be regulated by Congress.”

The recent case clarifies that a business is not required to sell goods or provide services in more than one state in order to obtain protection under the Lanham Act. A local business serving local customers may enjoy the benefits of a federal registration. It will be a rare business indeed that does not satisfy the standard the Federal Circuit has identified.