What is the Supplemental Register?

Think of the Supplemental Register as a steppingstone. Generic terms and descriptive words that might not pass muster for federal registration on what is called the “Principal” register can sometimes be registered on this. This would include a mark the trademark examiner deems “merely descriptive” because it merely describes the product or service it is identifying: a beer called GUAVA PALE, a coffeehouse on State Street called STATE STREET ROASTERS, or a stylized word logo for a swimming pool called PISCINE (French for “swimming pool”). But the USPTO can deem some such names “capable of eventually becoming a mark.”

The Supplemental Register is a catalogue of these names – registrations that are afforded partial protections until such a time as they “acquire distinctiveness” through use. The Supplemental Register does offer the registrant use of the ® symbol and the USPTO will cite supplemental registrations against confusingly similar marks that try to register after them. After five years of continuous use, you may present evidence of acquired distinctiveness and reapply to the Principal Register.

So, if your mark receives a refusal Office Action with a “Supplemental Register Option,” all is not lost.