Lanham Act or Federal Trademark Act Law and Legal Definition

The Lanham Act is found in Title 15, Chapter 22 of the U.S. Code and contains the federal statutes governing trademark law in the United States.It provides for a national system of trademark registration and protects the owner of a federally registered mark against the use of similar marks if any confusion results or if the strength of a strong mark is diluted. The Act prohibits a number of activities, including trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and false advertising.

The Lanham Act is divided into the four subchapters. Subchapter I set forth the requirements that a mark must meet to receive a registration on the Principal Register. Among the requirements are prohibitions against the registration of marks that are confusingly similar to existing marks, are generic or merely descriptive, are scandalous or immoral, or fall onto certain other prohibited categories.

Subchapter II sets forth a form of registration on the Supplemental Register, for certain marks that cannot be registered under Subchapter I, but may become registrable in the future.

Subchapter III containing the general provisions is the heart of the Lanham Act. Sections 42 and 43 of the Lanham Act set forth the remedies that can be sought when a trademark is infringed.

Subchapter IV speaks about the Madrid Protocol. This part was added on later.

The Act is named after Representative Fritz G. Lanham of Texas, and was passed on July 5, 1946. It was signed into law by President Harry Truman and took effect "one year from its enactment", on July 5, 1947.

This act is not the exclusive law governing U.S. trademark law, since both common law and state statutes also control some aspects of trademark protection. The Lanham Act's scope is independent of and concurrent with state common law.

Lanham Act is also referred to as the Federal Trademark Act or Trademark Act of 1946.