So, you have a registered trademark or maybe you’re planning to file for one. Have you wondered how long a registered trademark lasts? A trademark is a word, symbol, or design that identifies your brand and distinguishes it from others. A trademark can also help you protect your reputation, prevent confusion, and gain a competitive edge in the market.
But how long can you enjoy the benefits of a trademark? Is there an expiration date? Do you need to renew your trademark periodically? In this blog, we will answer these questions and explain how to keep your trademark alive.
How Long Does a Trademark Last?
The short answer is a trademark can last forever, as long as you use it and maintain it properly.
The long answer needs a little more than that. A trademark lasts for 10 years from the date of registration, with the possibility of unlimited 10-year renewal terms. However, during the first 10 years of registration, you must complete an initial renewal between the fifth and sixth year to maintain your registration.
Let’s break down the process of keeping your trademark alive:
Step 1: Register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This will initially give you 6 years of protection for your trademark. This means that you have the exclusive right to use your trademark for the goods or services that you registered under your trademark class.
Step 2: File a document called a Section 8 Declaration of Use or Excusable Nonuse between the fifth and sixth year of registration. This document is a sworn statement that you are still using your trademark in commerce or that you have a valid reason for not using it. You must also submit a specimen or sample of your trademark as used on or in connection with your goods or services. The current filing fee for this document is $225 per class.
Step 3: File the Declaration of Use along with another document called a Section 9 Application for Renewal at the end of the 10-year term (so, 4-5 years after you filed the original Section 8 in Step 2). This also requires you to pay a renewal fee of $525 per class. This will renew your registration for another 10 years.
Step 4: Repeat the third step every 10 years as long as you continue to use your trademark and file the required documents and fees.
If you fail to file any of these documents before the deadline, your registration will be canceled, expired, or invalidated. You may be able to restore your registration by filing a petition or a grace period form within six months of cancellation or expiration, but you will have to pay an additional fee.
How to Check Your Trademark Status and Deadlines
To keep track of your trademark status and deadlines, you can use the online tools provided by the USPTO:
One tool is the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) system. This system allows you to view the current status of your trademark application or registration, as well as any documents or correspondence related to it.
Another tool is the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). This system allows you to search for registered trademarks or pending applications that are similar or identical to yours. You can also view the filing dates and expiration dates of these trademarks or applications.
You can also sign up for email alerts from the USPTO to receive notifications about any changes or updates regarding your trademark.
For a more hassle-free approach, you can also hire a trademark attorney to keep track for you. Most trademark attorneys offer a maintenance or monitoring service. For example, we offer a $49 per month monitoring service that will keep track of when you need to renew as well as provide monthly monitoring to alert you if someone files a confusingly similar trademark to yours.
How to Avoid Common Mistakes and Pitfalls
Keeping your trademark alive may seem simple, but there are some common mistakes and pitfalls that you should avoid:
One mistake is to stop using your trademark. If you stop using your trademark for three consecutive years or more without a valid reason, it may be considered abandoned and subject to cancellation. You must use your trademark in commerce in a consistent and continuous manner to maintain its validity.
Another mistake is to change your trademark significantly. If you change your trademark in a way that alters its appearance or meaning, it may be considered a new mark that requires a new application and registration. You should keep your trademark consistent with the way it was registered.
A third mistake is to forget to update your information. If you change your name, address, or contact information, you must notify the USPTO by filing a Section 7 Request for Amendment or Correction. You must also update your information if you assign or transfer your trademark to another party, or if you change the goods or services associated with your trademark.
A fifth mistake is to fall for scams or misleading notices. If you receive an email or a letter from a private company that offers to renew your trademark, register your trademark in other countries, or protect your trademark from infringement, be careful. These companies may charge you excessive fees for services that are unnecessary, ineffective, or fraudulent. Not only that, but they could leave you high and dry thinking that you have renewed your trademark, when in fact, you have not. The USPTO is the only official authority that can register and renew your trademark in the U.S. You are required to renew the trademark yourself or use a licensed US trademark attorney to renew it for you.
A trademark can last forever, as long as you use it and maintain it properly. You must file certain documents and fees every 10 years to keep your trademark alive. You must also avoid common mistakes and pitfalls that may jeopardize your trademark rights.
If you need help with registering or renewing your trademark, contact us for a free consultation; we can assist you with the process and advise you on the best strategy for your situation.