Trademarks are an essential component of every business. They are the most effective technique to safeguard the identity of certain items or services. They also make it easier for customers to identify a specific company as the maker or source of a product and foster customer loyalty. When a trademark is registered, it is protected from unauthorized use and misuse, and it takes on qualities comparable to other sorts of property.
How long, however, does a trademark last? The length of a trademark registration varies based on the regulations of the nation where it was registered, but it is usually ten years.
How Long Does a Trademark Last?
Trademarks, unlike patents and copyrights, do not expire after a predetermined length of time. Trademarks will last as long as the owner continues to use them. Once a registered trademark is granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the owner must continue to use the trademark in ordinary commerce.
However, simply using the mark is insufficient. Section 8 of the Trademark Act requires the owner to submit proof that the trademark is still in use. The owner must file a section 8 declaration to demonstrate that the mark is still in use.
The owner’s sworn affirmation that the mark is still in use serves as proof. The declaration must be filed by the owner after the fifth anniversary of the trademark’s registration with the USPTO but before the sixth anniversary. If the declaration is not filed by the sixth anniversary, the owner might request a six-month grace period for a charge.
Why Is Trademark Registration Upkeep Necessary?
Registration maintenance ensures that your trademark remains active. To do so, you must demonstrate that you are still using your trademark.
You can’t keep registering a trademark if you don’t use it. This keeps individuals and businesses from hoarding unused trademarks.
If you do not renew a trademark registration, you must abandon it, which permits the USPTO to erase dormant trademarks from its records.
Registration of the First Trademark
When you register a trademark, you have the exclusive right to use it. This safeguards your brand name, logo, and the names of distinguishing items. It also helps to avoid market confusion.
Registering a trademark does not grant you ownership of a word, brand, or logo. It simply allows you to prohibit others from profiting from it.
Types of Trademarks
The following sorts of trademarks can be registered:
- Descriptive trademarks describe specific goods or services. They can be broad terms if you can demonstrate that people associate your descriptive term solely with your company.
- Suggestive trademarks refer to specific goods or services. They enable customers to utilize their imaginations to grasp the essence of the products or services.
- Arbitrary trademarks are widespread words that have no direct relationship to your goods and services. They are usually the simplest to set up.
- Fanciful trademarks are distinct, newly invented names with no past significance. They frequently have the most trademark protection.
Prohibited Trademarks Types
A trademark that is already in use cannot be registered. A trademark search determines whether or not a trademark is already in use. You cannot also register the following trademarks:
- Generic Phrases
- Final Names
- Geographical Expressions
- Marks of Controversy
- Marks that are deceptive
Initial Trademark Registration Period
You should always register a trademark application as soon as feasible for your brand, logo, or product. You can begin by submitting an intent-to-use trademark application. This keeps you in your position in line. It also safeguards your products and services while you establish your brand.
When you first register a trademark, it is valid for ten years. However, you must use the trademark to keep it active throughout this time. If you do not file continuation documentation before the sixth year of your initial registration period, your registration will also expire.
When Does Trademark Protection Appear?
While trademark registration is advantageous, it is not essential to obtain trademark rights. In other words, common law trademark rights frequently begin the moment your trademark, logo, slogan, brand name, or another trademarkable property is used in commerce. Even if you do not register with the USPTO, you will retain some rights indefinitely as long as you utilize them. However, common law protections are inadequate, and without federal registration, you will lose much of your legal recourse for trademark infringement.
If no problems arise throughout the registration process, your federal trademark should be registered within nine months. Although you have rights to a trademark as soon as it is used commercially, nationwide protection comes once your trademark is registered.
If someone files a trademark objection within 30 days of your trademark’s publication in the Official Gazette, the registration procedure may be delayed. Each year, around 6000 trademark oppositions are filed with the TTAB.
Keeping Your Trademark
The owner must present real proof that the trademark is in use on the tenth anniversary of registration. In addition to the declaration, as with the trademark section 8 declaration, the owner must supply photographic evidence of a product available for sale that bears the trademark. Unless the trademark is to be abandoned, the owner will be required to produce proof of usage and a declaration as part of the trademark renewal process every 10 years thereafter.
Understanding trademark maintenance necessitates a basic understanding of what a trademark is. You do not own a logo, a term, or a brand if you own a trademark. You have the exclusive right to prohibit anyone from using your trademark on goods or services. The trademark is how you inform your customers that your products are manufactured by you. The USPTO is directly interested in ensuring your capacity to enforce such rights.
To maintain such rights enforceable, you must continue to exercise them. You must create items, sell them, and incorporate your trademark into them. If you don’t do any of these things, you don’t have a trademark to defend. If you do not do things for a long enough period of time, you will lose your right to use the trademark.
Mark your calendar for the fifth and every ten-year anniversary to avoid losing such rights. Check that you can provide a Section 8 declaration and that you have documentation of trademark usage. Failure to do so may result in the loss of the trademark you wanted to preserve.
Documents for Trademark Maintenance
Common law trademarks are commercially used but not registered with the USPTO. These trademarks do not require maintenance, however, they do not usually have nationwide protection. While federal registration is valid indefinitely, you must file specific documents to keep the trademark active.
- 5-6 Years After Registration: A Section 8 declaration confirming continuous use was necessary. If possible, a Section 15 requesting incontestability should also be filed at this time.
- Section 8 declaration and Section 9 renewal required 9-10 years after registration.
- Section 8 and Section 9 forms must be filed every ten years after registration.
Failure to file these paper works on time will result in the trademark being abandoned.
What Are the Legal Prerequisites for Renewing a Trademark Registration?
The following files are included in the maintenance files:
- A Use Declaration. This is also known as a Section 8 Affidavit, and it validates that the owner is still using the trademark in the manner in which it was first issued.
- A Declaration of Invincibility. It states that your trademark cannot be disputed, and is also known as Section 15 Affidavit. While this is not required, it provides additional protection in the event of future disputes or infringement.
- A Renewal Application. It should be filed between the 9th and 10th year of your trademark registration date and is also known as Section 9 Affidavit. This confirms that you are still using the mark in its original form and adds ten years to your initial registration.
Section 9 Affidavits should be filed in the same manner for each subsequent registration period. They provide trademark protection for an indefinite amount of time (as long as you file the paperwork and have been using the trademark as it was issued).
As long as you own the registration, it is your responsibility to regulate and defend your trademark. That means you must fight everyone or any company who attempts to file a trademark that may overlap with your registration, and you must constantly monitor for infringement.
If you fail to meet these standards, you may lose your trademark rights.
What Happens if the Renewal Documents Are Not Filed in Time?
If this occurs, the United States Patent and Trademark Office may cancel your trademark. To avoid this, you must maintain a current registration by filing maintenance paperwork as required by law.
If your registration is canceled, it cannot be reactivated; you must reapply for registration. The USPTO provides a 6-month grace period for registration renewal, but petitioners must pay an extra fee.
If your trademark is canceled or expires, it may still be protected under common law if you have continued and continue to use it for the same purposes as its original meaning. While federal registration adds benefits and protection to those established by common law, it does not create new rights.
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Trademark Registration and Renewal in 3 Steps
#1. Fill out the trademark registration form.
This can be accomplished by utilizing the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). A printed form can also be obtained by phoning 800-786-9199.
With your application, you should provide the following documents:
- A usage statement and a collection of past usage examples
- Fees That Apply
- A trademark illustration
- A specimen of a trademark
After your registration has been authorized and your trademark has been given, you must:
#2. Submit a Declaration of Use
This must be done between the fifth and sixth anniversaries of your initial trademark registration. You can also file this document via the Trademark Electronic Application System.
Keep in mind that the USPTO will not notify you when it is time to file maintenance paperwork. It is entirely your duty to request trademark renewal on time.
#3. Submit a Renewal Application.
This must be done between the 9th and 10th of the year following your first trademark registration, and every ten years thereafter for as long as you want the trademark to be registered in your name.
Following these steps will provide you with continuous trademark protection as long as you continue to use it as it was initially registered and issued and fulfill your duties as the trademark owner.
Expiration of a Trademark
Approximately 300,000 trademark registrations and applications are abandoned each year. If you become a victim of this statistic, you will lose the government protections with USPTO registration. This is true even if you continue to utilize it commercially.
If you fail to satisfy trademark renewal deadlines for your trademark, you still have various options for extending protection. Those who fail to file their maintenance documentation on time are given a six-month grace period by the USPTO. Filing during this grace period permits you to renew your trademark, but it will cost you more money. If you do not renew during this deadline, your federal rights will be lost. This means you must file a fresh trademark application, and there is no certainty that your trademark will be accepted again.
This is why, if you want your trademark to be valid indefinitely, you must be diligent about renewals. Protecting a trademark also necessitates ongoing trademark monitoring for suspected infringement.
Is International Protection Provided by Trademark Registration?
No. State and federal registration provide protection inside the state and country’s geopolitical limits, respectively. You have two alternatives for obtaining trademark protection in foreign countries: You can register a trademark registration in each nation where you want the mark to be protected, or you can file a Madrid Protocol application, European Union, or other regional trademarks that provide protection in each member country of these groups.
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