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.

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.

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.

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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.

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Expiration of Trademark Registration & Abandonment

References

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My Trademark Registration Lapsed

You may be able to renew or register your trademark again if you let the registration lapse. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office handles all trademark registrations and renewals. The office must follow the registration rules set by the U.S. Trademark Act. If your trademark has lapsed, your options depend on how long ago the registration lapsed and whether the office made a mistake while processing your renewal paperwork.

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 registering the trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Once you register the trademark, you have the legal right to use the trademark exclusively. In the event that another business uses the same or similar trademark, you can seek legal protection in federal court for the trademark infringement.

What Does Patent Mean?

A patent is a legal monopoly on the use and benefit of a unique invention. Patent rights are granted by national governments after a lengthy application and examination process. The patent holder may be the inventor or, as in the case of a work for hire, the inventor’s employer. In the U.S., patents are granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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