Trademark rights come from their active use in commerce, not necessarily from registration. However, once a trademark is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the owner of the mark must comply with the maintenance requirements.
How long does a federally registered trademark last? Read on to find out.
How Long Does a Trademark Last? – The Fundamentals
If you own an unregistered trademark, your rights to use it will last as long as you keep using it associated with products or services in the marketplace. Also referred to as “common law” trademarks, unregistered marks offer limited protection.
To ensure a superior level of protection, many US trademark owners prefer to register with USPTO.
After the owner of a brand obtains approval for trademark registration with USPTO, the initial registration lasts five years. Once this period has expired, another filing process is required to renew the registration.
It is crucial to understand that maintaining the exclusive right to use a federal trademark requires the owner to keep using it for business. If the owner of a federal trademark goes out of business or simply stops to use the mark, it will likely result in an abandonment of the mark from a legal perspective.
Maintaining the registration of an abandoned trademark is not mandatory. Hence, another party can file to cancel the trademark registration with USPTO based on the fact that it has been no longer used in commerce.
Renewal of Federal Trademark Registration – In-Depth Review
Five years after the initial filing process, owners of trademarks that continued to use them associated with the goods and services listed in the USPTO application can file for a renewal.
While US trademark law does not necessarily require applicants to use an attorney, it is the most recommended strategy to avoid potential pitfalls and ensure full compliance. The next step is to file Section 8 Declaration of Continued Use.
This form is a declaration filed by the trademark owner that officially states:
- The trademark is still being used in commerce with the goods or services listed in the application, or
- The trademark is not in use due to specific circumstances that justify the fact
Please note that trademarks do not expire as long as they are used in commerce. Hence, there is no specific expiration date.
Meeting USPTO’s deadlines on renewal filings guarantee the registration will not be at risk of abandonment, preventing the unnecessary exposure of the trademark to cancellation. Not submitting a timely renewal filing is only a feasible option if the trademark is no longer in use and the owner does not want to renew it intentionally.
Long-Term Maintenance of Trademark Registration
After filing the Section 8 Declaration with the USPTO five years from the initial registration, the next renewal filing must happen at some point between the 9th and 10th year of the original registration date.
The new renewal must also include evidence that the mark is still being used in commerce. Once this second renewal is approved by USPTO, the trademark owner has an entire decade ahead until another renewal is due.
As long as USPTO’s maintenance requirements are properly met, a federal trademark registration can last forever.