How Long Does a Trademark Last?
Trademarks are an important part of a business. They are the best way to protect the identity of particular products or services. They also help consumers easily recognize a specific company as the manufacturer or source of a product and encourage customer loyalty. Once a trademark is registered, it is protected from use and misuse by others, and it acquires characteristics similar to other types of property.
But, how long does a trademark last?
The duration of a trademark registration varies depending on the country laws where it was registered, but it’s typically ten years.
How long does a trademark last in the US?
In the United States, a federal trademark can potentially last forever, but it has to be renewed every ten years. If the mark is still being used between the 5th and the 6th year after it was registered, then the registration can be renewed.
To do so, the owner must file the maintenance documents required by the United States Patent Trademark Office (USPTO) within the adequate time frames. The owner must also meet the legal requirements for the trademark to be renewed.
What are the legal requirements to renew a trademark registration?
The maintenance files include the following:
A Declaration of Use. This is also known as Section 8 Affidavit, and it confirms that the owner is still using the trademark as it was originally issued.
A Declaration of Incontestability. Also known as Section 15 Affidavit, it states that your trademark cannot be challenged. While this is not mandatory, it provides further protection in case of future challenges or infringement.
An Application for Renewal. Also known as Section 9 Affidavit, it should be filed between the 9th and 10th year of your trademark registration date. This confirms that you are still using the mark as it was initially issued and confers ten additional years to your initial registration.
Section 9 Affidavit should be filed in the same manner for every future registration period, and it will grant trademark protection for an unlimited period (as long as you file the paperwork and have been using the trademark as it was issued).
It is your duty to police and defend your trademark as long as you are the owner of the registration. That means that you need to challenge any person or company trying to file a trademark that could be overlapping your registration, and constantly check for infringement.
If you don’t uphold these requirements, you could lose the rights to your trademark.
What happens if the renewal documents are not filed within the duly time frame?
If that happens, your trademark can be canceled by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. To prevent this, you need to keep an active registration by filing maintenance documents when it is required by law.
If the registration is canceled, it cannot be reinstated, and you need to apply for registration again. The USPTO offers a 6-month grace period to renew the registration, but petitioners need to pay an additional fee.
If your trademark is canceled or it expires, it can be still under common law protection, provided that you have continued and continue using it for the same purposes of its original intent. Federal registration, while it confers additional benefits and protection to those established by common law, does not create new rights.
3 Steps to Registering and Renewing a Trademark
- File the trademark registration. You can do this by using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). You can also get a paper form by calling 800-786-9199.
You should include the following documents with your application:
- A Statement of use and a list of previous examples of use
- Relevant Fees
- A trademark drawing
- A trademark specimen
Once your registration has been approved and your trademark granted, you need to:
2. File a Declaration of Use. This needs to be done between the 5th and 6th anniversary of the date of your initial trademark registration. You can also use the Trademark Electronic Application System to file this document.
Bear in mind that the USPTO will not send you a reminder when you need to file maintenance documents. It is your sole responsibility to request your trademark renewal on time.
3. File an Application for Renewal. This needs to be done between the 9th and 10th of the date of your initial trademark registration, and every ten years for as long as you want the trademark to be registered under your name.
Following these steps will provide continuous trademark protection on the condition that you keep using it as it was originally registered and issued and do your duties as the trademark owner.
Does trademark registration offer international protection?
No. State and Federal registration provide protection within the geopolitical boundaries of the state and country respectively. If you want to have trademark protection in other countries you have two options: You can submit a trademark registration in each country where you want the mark to be protected, or you can file a Madrid Protocol application, European Union, or other regional trademarks which confers protection within each country member of these groups.
Are you still unsure on how to proceed with your trademark registration and renewal? You should contact a trademark attorney to guide and advise you through the whole process.