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Autoimmune Arthritis/Autoinflammatory ArthritisTrademark Information

In 2009, the International Foundation for Autoimmune Arthritis (IFAA) first put the term "autoimmune arthritis" into public use, including establishing a complete disease list to accompany the diseases that were autoimmune and most often presented with arthritis.  Upon becoming the first official nonprofit to use the term in public, and who established programs based on the definition and disease list set forth by the organization, the term became what is referred to as an “unregistered or common law trademark” to the IFAA. 

Unregistered trademarks are enforceable marks created by a business or individual to signify or distinguish a product or service and may receive protection under the federal "Lanham Act" (15 USC § 1125), which includes prohibition against commercial misrepresentation of source or origins of goods.  While other organizations, businesses, and the public is encouraged to use the term, the definition or disease list cannot be misrepresented, redefined, or altered in a way that it negatively impacts the IFAA's work.

TM is used to protect intellectual property that is not officially registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).   Learn more about the history of the term.



autoimmune arthritis

​​According to the US Arthritis Foundation, "Arthritis is very common but is not well understood. Actually, “arthritis” is not a single disease; it is an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease." They also state that "with autoimmune and inflammatory types of arthritis, early diagnosis and aggressive treatment is critical." (Reference 1)  We agree.  This is why we work hard at IFAA to focus on the autoimmune and associated diseases where arthritis is a major issue.  We, however, focus additionally on the autoimmune/autoinflammatory nature of the diseases in addition to the arthritic component.

"Autoimmune Arthritis" refers to autoimmune, inflammatory diseases that heavily involve the joints, but also affect tissues and organs.  While there are over 80 autoimmune diseases, only some include symptoms of arthritis, which makes them unique.


The term "Autoimmune Arthritis" dates back to the 1980's, when scientists used it to differentiate arthritis types in research.  In 2009, the original founders (of IAAM, which is now IFAA) searched for an existing term that could best explain a small group of diseases where patients were reporting classic autoimmune symptoms as well as major joint involvement. The team searched descriptive terms and classifications until they found "autoimmune arthritis" in several research studies published on PubMed.  Then they recruited a group of rheumatologists who agreed to help identify any recorded definition or disease list inclusive of this term; after much research, they determined that none existed. 

While this investigation was underway, the Founders continued to communicate with patients around the world, collecting information about their earliest symptoms, treatments, and current disease progression; it was realized that a handful of diseases seemingly shared overlapping symptoms, regardless of the diagnosis.   IFAA recruited a rheumatologist, who enlisted his rheumatology office group, to help determine which diseases most often involved joints as a primary symptom, plus were autoimmune. While it was understood many diseases were autoimmune and could have arthritis, we chose to start by focusing on those that have the most common early symptoms, disease progression, treatment, and chance for remission.   

As research into the immune system has advanced, some diseases once thought to be "autoimmune" are now categorized as "autoinflammatory" ("auto" as the commonality, which means "immune mediated" (Reference 2). 

Autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases share common characteristics in that both groups of disorders result from the immune system attacking the body’s own tissues, and also result in increased inflammation. Some of these autoinflammatory diseases, like Adult Onset Still's Disease (AOSD) & Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (sJIA), are truly triggered by the "innate immune system" while others, like spondylitis diseases, are thought to fall in a continuum between autoinflammatory and autoimmune-where there are both genetic + environmental triggers.  As research progresses, IFAA will continue to be a foundation that focuses on Autoimmune Arthritis and associated diseases, including those of an Autoinflammatory Arthritis nature.  We believe continued differentiation is important to identifying these diseases with overlapping symptom onset, so that research into better treatments can av  Symptoms of these typically include:

  • Debilitating fatigue
  • Fevers (lower grade in autoimmune)
  • Myalgia
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Brain fog
  • Joint pain in multiple locations at the same time
  • Severe stiffness after rest

While many diseases that are autoimmune or autoinflammatory can involve arthritis, those that are most similar in onset, continued symptoms, treatment, and potential for remission include Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Still's Disease, Sjogren's Syndrome, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, and Juvenile Arthritis (including all juvenile versions of the above diseases).  When these diseases are not fully developed, or overlap and cannot be determined which disease diagnosis should be rendered, this is called Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease or Undifferentiated Spondyloarthropathy.


other autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases that often include inflammatory arthritis

There are additional autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases that often include arthritis. However, these diseases may present slightly different because they involve other body parts as a major disease symptom (muscles, gastrointestinal issues) or be the result of another disease (Enteropathic Arthritis).​

Behcet's Disease
Crohn's Disease
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
Enteropathic Arthritis
Felty's Syndrome
Jaccoud's Arthrititis
Mixed Connective Tissue Disease
Palindromic Rheumatism
Polymyalgia Rheumatica
Reactive Arthritis
Relapsing Polychondritis
TRAPS (Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor-Associated Periodic Syndrome)
Wegener's Granulomatosis

Diseases or conditions that often occur in conjunction with Autoimmune-Autoinflammatory Arthritis diseases:

Raynaud's Phenomenon