Trademark, Service Mark Registration

The Division of Securities and Retail Franchising acts as a registration depository for trademarks and service marks in Virginia under the provisions of the Virginia Trademark and Service mark Act. The Division acts in an administrative capacity only and cannot give legal advice.

Trademark and Service Mark Registration Instructions


Registration of trademarks/service marks is designed to prevent customer confusion and unfair competition by providing public notice of the use of a particular mark. A mark cannot be reserved and may not be registered until it has been used in commerce.

Legal rights for a mark are acquired through use and are subject to the common law rights of others. Registration of a mark with this Division does not negate its common law rights of first use.

A mark is something that identifies a good (trademark) or service (service mark). It can consist of a design, words and a design, words or letters in a certain style, or work alone. A mark must be able to distinguish the goods or services of others. However, even if it does, it may not be registered if it falls within one of the statutory prohibitions.

Trademarks are used by merchants and manufacturers to identify goods as their own. They also are referred to as brand names.

Service marks identify services and the source of those services. Retail stores, restaurant services and printing services are included as types of services. A service mark’s top function is to designate the source of the services provided, but it may at the same time function as an identification of the business which provides the service.

Federal trademark registration is only available for marks used in interstate commerce. For a business planning to operate only in this state, registration in Virginia provides notice to others and will provide protection against infringement.

A trademark or service mark registration is effective for a period of five years from the approval date, and can be renewed for additional five year periods.

FAQs - Trademarks, Service Marks