How Long Can You Keep Your Trademark?

If you have registered a trademark in the United States or any other country, you may wonder how long you can own it and what you need to do to maintain it. Trademarks are valuable assets that protect your brand identity and reputation, but they also require regular upkeep and renewal to remain valid and enforceable. In this blog post, we will explain the basics of trademark renewals/maintenance and how to avoid losing your trademark rights.

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If you have registered a trademark in the United States or any other country, you may wonder how long you can own it and what you need to do to maintain it. Trademarks are valuable assets that protect your brand identity and reputation, but they also require regular upkeep and renewal to remain valid and enforceable. In this blog post, we will explain the basics of trademark renewals/maintenance and how to avoid losing your trademark rights.

What is trademark renewal?

Trademark renewal is the process of maintaining a trademark registration indefinitely. Trademarks need to be renewed by filing a Declaration of Continued Use between the 5th and 6th year after registration, and then every 10 years after that. The USPTO renewal fee is set by the USPTO. At present, the government charges $225 per class for a declaration of use after 5 years and $525 per of goods or services. There is also something that is called a Declaration of Incontestability that can be filed after 5 years as well; look to tomorrow’s blog to learn more about that.

The Declaration of Continued Use is a sworn statement that you are still using your trademark in commerce with the goods or services listed in your registration. You also need to submit one specimen for each class of goods or services, showing how your trademark is used in the marketplace. A specimen can be a label, tag, packaging, website screenshot, advertisement, or any other evidence of use. While the government does not often do so, as a part of the Trademark Modernization Act, they can also sometimes perform an audit during your renewal and request a specimen of a specific good or service to ensure that you are currently using your mark for that specific good or service.

If you fail to file the Declaration of Continued Use before the deadline, your registration will be canceled and you will lose your trademark rights. You can file within a six-month grace period after the deadline, but you will have to pay an extra fee of $100 per class.

What is trademark maintenance?

Trademark maintenance is more than just filing renewal documents. It also involves monitoring your trademark use and enforcing your trademark rights against infringers. Here are some best practices for trademark maintenance:

  • Continue using your trademark in commerce with all the goods or services in your registration. If you stop using your trademark with some or all of the goods or services, you should delete them from your registration by filing a Section 7 request. Otherwise, you may face cancellation or invalidation of your registration.

  • Use your trademark consistently and properly. Follow the rules of trademark usage, such as using the ® symbol for registered trademarks, capitalizing your trademark, distinguishing it from other words or symbols, and avoiding generic or descriptive terms.

  • Monitor the market for potential infringers or competitors who may use similar trademarks or domain names that could confuse consumers or dilute your brand. You can use online tools such as Google Alerts or set up official gazette “watches” or searches through your USPTO portal at my.uspto.gov to keep track of new trademark applications or registrations that may conflict with yours. You can also hire a professional service to conduct comprehensive searches and watch services for you.

  • Enforce your trademark rights by sending cease and desist letters, filing oppositions or cancellations against conflicting trademarks, or taking legal action if necessary. You can consult a trademark attorney for advice and representation on how to protect your trademark from infringement.

How long can you own a trademark?

As long as you renew your trademark registration between years 5-6, then every 10 years thereafter, and continue using your trademark in commerce with the goods or services in your registration, you can own your trademark indefinitely. However, if you abandon your trademark by stopping its use for three consecutive years without a valid reason, you may lose your trademark rights even if your registration is still valid. Therefore, it is important to keep track of your trademark use and renewal dates and file the required documents on time.

Conclusion

Trademark renewals/maintenance are essential steps to keep your trademark registration alive and protect your brand identity and reputation. By following the rules and best practices of trademark usage, monitoring the market for potential infringers or competitors, and enforcing your trademark rights when necessary, you can enjoy the benefits of owning a trademark for as long as you want.

Do you have a trademark that needs to be renewed soon, or have additional questions about maintenance/renewals? Set up a consultation, and we would be happy to assist.