A trademark can be protected by state, federal and common law simultaneously. State and federal marks are always common law marks, because common law trademarks originate immediately upon using a symbol in connection with the sale of goods or services. Protection provided under common law is limited, however, and many companies will benefit from registering their marks with the state or federal government. The benefits of registering a mark federally are far greater than those offered under state registrations. However, the process for registering a mark federally is more extensive, rigorous and time-consuming than it is for state registrations. Some companies that can't afford federal trademark protection, and may find they are sufficiently served with a state trademark registration if they operate solely within one state and have no plans for expansion. With the growth of the Internet and the rise in nationwide commerce, many businesses find they are better off with federal, as opposed to state, trademark registrations. However, you should speak with an attorney licensed to practice law in your individual state to determine whether or not a state trademark registration makes sense for your particular business.