You must specify the legal reason for why you are allowed to federally register your trademark. This is known as a filing basis. There are multiple filing bases and you must satisfy all the legal requirements for the filing basis that you choose. The most common are use in commerce and intent to use. Learn about the different types of filing bases and the requirements for each.
Use in commerce vs. Intent to use
Although “use in commerce” and “intent to use” are two types of filing bases, they have different meanings and requirements.
Use in commerce
Use in commerce means using your trademark in selling or transporting your goods out of state or in providing services to customers who live outside your state.
For example, you might grow wheat in Kansas and sell it to buyers in Massachusetts or Mexico. Or you might provide website design services from your home in Oregon to customers in Georgia and Guam.
To register your trademark, you’ll need to provide evidence that you’re using it in commerce. This means you’ll need to submit a specimen showing how you use your trademark. You’ll also need to provide the date you first used your trademark in commerce and the date you first used it anywhere.
Intent to use
Intent to use means that you haven’t started using your trademark in commerce, but you have a bona fide intent to do so within the next three to four years.
For example, you might intend to make and sell jewelry, but you’re just at the point of sourcing your materials—you haven’t started making or selling jewelry yet. Or you might currently be providing personal training services only to local clients in your state, but in the next year you’ll be expanding your services into the neighboring state.
Although you can apply to register your trademark with an intent-to-use basis, you cannot actually register your trademark until you show that you’ve started using it in commerce and you file the proper TEAS form.