Considering trademark registration for your brand name or logo? Here’s a simple, step-by-step guide of what to expect when seeking trademark registration before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The Trademark Application
Once your comprehensive trademark search has been completed and shows that your proposed mark is available for use and registration, we begin by preparing the U.S. trademark application form. The application includes contact details for your company, a graphic illustration of the mark, a description of the goods and services for which your business wishes to obtain trademark registration, and proof of use of the mark, or a declaration that your company intends to use the trademark in the near future.
Once the application is completed and signed, we file the application with the USPTO and pay the applicable filing fees for the application.
At The Trademark Office
Once filed, your trademark application is assigned to an Examiner for formal review within 2-3 months. The trademark office examines the application to make sure that it complies with the administrative requirements or formalities (i.e., whether the application fee has been paid and the application form meets the minimum filing requirements).
The trademark Examiner also conducts a substantive review where he or she examines the application to verify whether it complies with all the substantive requirements (e.g., whether the trademark is in conflict with an existing mark in the relevant class(es), whether the description of goods or services is too broad or vague, whether the application specimen properly shows the trademark in use). If the application meets the basic and substantive review requirements, the Examiner will allow the application to be published for public notice.
Publication and Opposition
Once the application passes the Examiner’s review, the trademark is published in the USPTO journal for a period of 30 days for third parties to oppose its registration. During the publication period, any party (whether they own a registered trademark or not) may oppose the application on the grounds of their own prior use of the mark, a likelihood of confusion with their trademark, or any other basis. If an opposition is filed, the registration process is effectively paused pending the outcome of the opposition proceedings.
If the USPTO finds that there are no grounds for refusal and the application is not opposed, the trademark will be registered, and a registration certificate is issued which is generally valid for 10 years. The entire process, from application to registration takes between 8-12 months, but you establish your priority in line, so to speak, by filing your application with the USPTO as early as possible.
While your trademark registration is good for 10 years, it may be renewed indefinitely by paying the required renewal fees. This usually occurs in the 6th year of your registration. However, your registration may be canceled if the trademark is not used for a certain period of time or if another party files a petition to cancel your mark based on non-use.