No. In the United States, parties are not required to register their marks to obtain protectable rights. You can establish “common law” rights in a mark based solely on use of the mark in commerce, without a registration. However, owning a federal trademark registration on the Principal Register provides a number of significant advantages over common law rights alone, including:
- A legal presumption of your ownership of the mark and your exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration (whereas a state registration only provides rights within the borders of that one state, and common law rights exist only for the specific area where the mark is used);
- Public notice of your claim of ownership of the mark;
- Listing in the USPTO’s online databases;
- The right to use the federal registration symbol “® ”;
- The ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court; and
- The use of the U.S. registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries.(Information from uspto.gov)
Sometimes a registration in the State of Alabama will be enough to protect the mark for the intended use. For more information about federal trademark registration, including fee structure, click here.