Minnesota trademark attorney Aaron Hall explains the issues faced by those who register an abandoned trademark.

Clients often ask me if they can register a trademark that has been abandoned. Typically they mean they went on the USPTO website, they looked at the trademark there, and they identified that it was named abandoned, or under the USPTO website it was listed as abandoned.

While you can file a trademark registration for an abandoned trademark, you may run into problems with common law trademark. The owner of that registered trademark may have abandoned the federal trademark registration, but still has common law trademark rights. Said another way, the owner of an abandoned registered trademark, who is still using the mark, still has common law trademark rights.

It’s important if you’re going to do something like that to meet with an attorney and make sure you’re not infringing someone else’s trademark by trying to register an abandoned U.S. trademark.