In trademark treatises it is usually reported that blacksmiths who
made swords in the Roman Empire are thought of as being the first
users of trademarks. Other notable trademarks that have been used
for a long time include Löwenbräu, which claims use of its lion
mark since 1383. The first trademark legislation was passed by the
Parliament of England under the reign of King Henry III in 1266,
which required all bakers to use a distinctive mark for the bread
The first modern trademark laws emerged in the late 19th century.
In France the first comprehensive trademark system in the world was
passed into law in 1857 with the "Manufacture and Goods Mark Act".
In Britain, the 1862 Merchandise Marks Act made it a criminal
offense to imitate another's trade mark 'with intent to defraud or
to enable another to defraud'. In 1875 the Trade Marks Registration
Act was passed which allowed formal registration of trade marks at
the UK Patent Office for the first time. Registration was
considered to comprise prima facie evidence of ownership of a trade
mark and registration of marks began on 1 January 1876. The 1875
Act defined a registrable trade mark as 'a device, or mark, or name
of an individual or firm printed in some particular and distinctive
manner; or a written signature or copy of a written signature of an
individual or firm; or a distinctive label or ticket'.
In the United States, Congress first attempted to establish a
federal trademark regime in 1870. This statute purported to be an
exercise of Congress' Copyright Clause powers. However, the Supreme
Court struck down the 1870 statute in the Trade-Mark Cases later on
in the decade. In 1881, Congress passed a new trademark act, this
time pursuant to its Commerce Clause powers. Congress revised the
Trademark Act in 1905. The Lanham Act of 1946 updated the law and
has served, with several amendments, as the primary federal law on
The Trademarks Act of 1938 in the United Kingdom set up the first
registration system based on the “intent-to-use” principle. The Act
also established an application publishing procedure and expanded
the rights of the trademark holder to include the barring of
trademark use even in cases where confusion remained unlikely. This
Act served as a model for similar legislation elsewhere.
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