Trademark Law Research Guide

This guide focuses on one area of intellectual property law, trademark law, and provides an introduction to materials used to research trademark law in the United States.

Federal Primary Law

Federal Statutes

Trademark Laws are contained in the United States Code (U.S.C.) Title 15, Chapter 22.  For more information on researching U.S. statutory law, see Georgetown Law Library's Statutes Research Guide or the Statutory Research Tutorial.  The U.S. Primary Sources research guide provides a list of locations for statutes, case law, and regulations.

Federal Legislative Histories

Federal Regulations

Regulations on trademark law are promulgated by United States Patent and Trademark Office (which also administers the trademark system) and codified in Title 37, Chapter 1 of the Code of Federal Regulations. For more on administrative legal research, generally, refer to our Administrative Law Research Guide or Administrative Law Tutorial. The U.S. Primary Sources research guide provides a list of locations for statutes, case law, and regulations.

Federal Case Law

For information on researching case law, see Georgetown Law Library's Case Law Research Guide or the Case Law Research Tutorial. The U.S. Primary Sources research guide provides a list of locations for statutes, case law, and regulations.

Federal Administrative Decisions

Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB)

The USPTO Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) handles appeals involving applications to register marks, appeals from expungement or reexamination proceedings involving registrations, and trial cases of various types involving applications or registrations.

Decisions of the Commissioner of Patents & Trademark

USPTO Resources

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), an agency of the United States Department of Commerce, is the federal agency in charge of granting patents, registering trademarks, and providing patent and trademark information.  

There are a number of valuable resources available on their website for free; some key links are below.

Other Government Websites

Multi-jurisdictional Research: 50-State Surveys

Fifty-state surveys track a single topic across the statutes (or regulations) of all 50 states.  They usually take the form of a state-by-state table or chart containing the citations to the laws on the given topic in each state, but generally contain little-to-no analysis.  A 50-State Survey will not be available for all topics, but, if there is one, it can serve as a valuable starting point when conducting multi-jurisdictional research on a topic. Check each of the below sources to see if there is a 50-state-survey already compiled for your topic. (Note the date of any 50-state-surveys you find; some updating may be required.)

Note that you can sometimes find multi-state surveys or multi-state issue-trackers online, such as on the websites of law firms or organizations that are interested in tracking specific topics across jurisdictions.  For example, the National Conference of State Legislatures also often has multi-state surveys for statutes or legislation (bill-tracking, etc.) on select topics.

In addition, national treatises on a topic often have state-by-state treatments that will include citations to equivalent laws in each state (e.g. they may have sections or chapters on each state, state-by-state tables, or information in their appendices that describe the laws in each state).  Our Treatise Finders, while not comprehensive, are a great place to begin. Check both Lexis and Westlaw for relevant treatises, as each has unique titles.

Finally, American Law Reports (ALRs) also track a single, narrow legal issue across all U.S. jurisdictions. They typically include substantive analysis and useful research tools (such as a Table of Laws and cross-references to other secondary sources and research tools). ALRs are available on both Westlaw and Lexis.