How Long Is a Trademark Valid?

By Holly Cameron

Trademarks protect distinctive brand words, phrases, symbols or designs from unauthorized use by others. Trademark rights exist as soon as you start using your trademark in commerce and the rights become stronger with continued use. To obtain proof of your rights and maximum possible protection, you should register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO.

Trademarks protect distinctive brand words, phrases, symbols or designs from unauthorized use by others. Trademark rights exist as soon as you start using your trademark in commerce and the rights become stronger with continued use. To obtain proof of your rights and maximum possible protection, you should register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO.

Registration

You can file a trademark application with the USPTO either electronically or in paper form. Applications should include your own name and address and a depiction or drawing of the trademark requested. Once registered, there is a legal presumption of your ownership of the trademark; you may bring an action in a federal court to protect your interest. A trademark lasts for an initial period of 10 years from the date of registration, subject to the filing of either a Declaration of Continued Use or a Declaration of Excusable Non-use after five years.

Protect your brand. Register My Trademark Now

Declaration of Continued Use

To maintain a federal trademark registration, you must file a maintenance document before the end of the sixth year after the date of registration. This document is known as a Declaration of Continued Use; it is a sworn statement that the mark is in use in commerce. The form should also include a list of the goods or services that use the trademark. If you don’t file a Declaration of Continued Use, the USPTO will cancel the trademark. If the Declaration is filed and accepted, the registration remains in force until the expiry of 10 years from the date of first registration.

Declaration of Excusable Non-Use

If, for some reason, your trademark is not in use, but you want to retain it, you must file a Declaration of Excusable Non-use between five and six years after the date of registration. The Declaration comprises a sworn statement that the non-use is temporary and is due to circumstances beyond your control. The Declaration should set out the steps that you are taking to remedy the situation. The USPTO has accepted reasons relating to illness, natural disasters and the sale of a business for non-use of a trademark.

Renewal

After 10 years from the date of registration, you can file an application to renew your trademark with the USPTO. This document is known as a Declaration of Use and Application for Renewal. There is no limit on the number of times that you can renew your trademark.

Protect your brand. Register My Trademark Now
Expiration of Trademark Registration & Abandonment

References

Related articles

Can I Trademark Before I Sell the Product?

Since the federal trademark registration process takes several months, it makes sense to apply for trademark registration as soon as you design your mark while in the initial stages of product development. Your company can file a federal trademark registration application before you sell any products. You can also potentially secure common law trademark rights in your name, logo or slogan through actual use in the marketplace, such as pre-sale marketing. Under common law, a company automatically secures trademark rights once the original mark is used in association with its goods or services offered in the marketplace.

How Trademarks Work

Any unique symbol, logo, word or phrase used to distinguish your business's services or products is a mark. Your trademark rights are created when you start using the mark in commerce, and include the right to exclusively use the mark and prevent others from using it. Trademark rights are valuable property rights that you can further protect by registering your mark with the state and federal government, as well as by diligently stopping others from infringing on your mark.

How to Obtain a Trademark

You obtain a trademark by using a logo, word, slogan or design that is associated with a product or service provided by your business. The key to establishing a trademark is using it actually and continually in commerce. The strength of your trademark rights depends on the uniqueness of your trademark, how long it has been in use and the size of the geographical area where the trademark is used. Although not legally required, registering your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides the maximum legal rights and protection for your trademark.

File a Trademark Online. LegalZoom. Learn More.

Related articles

Trademark Owner's Responsibilities

Holding an official trademark registered with the federal government gives you the right to exclusively use your mark, ...

How to Trademark an Idea

If you have an idea for a trademark design that you want to use exclusively for your business, you should consider ...

How to Trademark a Product Before It Exists

The only way to establish trademark rights is to actually use the trademark in commerce. If your product is not ready ...

What Is a Trademark's Duration?

A trademark identifies a particular manufacturer of goods, using a particular phrase, design or symbol. Designs, words ...

Browse by category