The Constitution and Federal Statutes
The United States common law has protected trademarks under state common law since colonial times. Congress did not attempt to establish a federal trademark protection mechanism until 1870. It then attempted a second act that passed in 1876. These were declared unconstitutional by The Trade-Mark Cases 100 U.S. 82 (1879). The Trade-Mark Cases decision did not object to the laws of the states' common law trademark systems.
Unlike patent law and copyright law, which originated from Article I, section 8, clause 8 of the Constitution, there is no provision in the Constitution authorizing Congress to specifically create a registry system for trademarks, even though the use of such marks to identify one's goods or products existed since antiquity. Congress was finally able to create a legitimate trademark registration system in 1881 basing its authority upon Congress' Commerce Clause powers. Current trademark law does not limit protection to a set time period. Marks only expire when owners stop using them in commerce.
The latest complete revision of U.S. trademark law is:
The Trademark Act of 1946 (Lanham Act), 60 Stat. 427, 15 U.S.C. §§1051-1127 (2000), July 5, 1946, ch. 540, Pub. L. No. 79-489. There are amendments to this act, but not a complete revision.
The following are the major revisions of federal trademark law:
The Federal Trademark Laws are codified at Title 15, Chapter 22 of the United States Code.
See: J. Thomas McCarthy, McCarthy on Trademarks and Unfair Competition (4th ed., 2015). Westlaw and Frank I. Schecter, The Historical Foundations of the Law Relating to Trade-Marks (N.Y.: Columbia U. Press, 1925). Ebook: MOML.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is authorized by Congress (37 U.S.C. §2), and under the direction of the Secretary of Congress to promulgate "regulations not inconsistent with the law." governing the conduct of the Office. The USPTO regulations appear in Title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Within Title 37 there appear separate indexes for the Patent regulations and the Trademark regulations. There is also a general CFR Index. The trademark regulations are also searchable online in: Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg Law, HeinOnline, and ProQuest Regulatory Insight, among other research databases.
As has been mentioned, the first trademark law case brought before a United States federal court was in 1844. It was Taylor v. Carpenter, 25 F. Cas. 742 (C. C. D. Mass. 1844).