A trademark is an incredibly valuable asset to any business owner, but it's important to know that it does not last forever. To ensure your intellectual property rights are protected, you must renew your trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) periodically.
This article explains the validity of a federal trademark, how to keep your trademark registration active, and what can happen if you do not.
How Long Does a Trademark Last in the United States?
A registered trademark can last up to 10 years from the day of its initial registration but expires after 6 years if it is not maintained.
Between the 5th and 6th year after the registration date of your trademark, the USPTO will send you a notice asking you to file a declaration of use or excusable nonuse. This keeps your initial registration active for another 5 years. If you fail to comply with this requirement, your trademark will be canceled and will have to be re-registered if you still want to use it.
If you would like to extend the use of your trademark beyond 10 years, you will have to file for renewal between the 9th and 10th anniversary of your registration date. Moving forward, you will be able to renew your trademark for additional 10-year periods as long as it is being used.
Use it or Lose It
It is important to note that if you do not use your trademark for an extended period, you may lose it. To keep your trademark active, you must use it in commerce on all of the goods and services specified in your registration.
If you do not, your trademark rights may become diluted, opening the door for others to use your mark in connection with their business.
Maintaining Your Trademark Registration
Your trademark is renewable indefinitely if it is properly maintained. This means using the mark in commerce, paying the appropriate maintenance fees, and filing the required legal documents on time.
Using the Mark in Commerce
Use the mark on all products and services for which it is registered. This helps you make sure that your company's identity is associated with the product and service in question. It also keeps the trademark in active use and informs the public of your company's name, which indicates a commitment to the brand.
You must ensure that the goods and services are kept up-to-date. If you are not currently using your mark in association with those goods or services, you must remove them from your registration when filing maintenance documents.
Required Maintenance Documents and Renewal Schedule
The USPTO recommends that you always renew your trademark registration with the assistance of an experienced professional who can guide you through the process. This can be especially helpful if your business is foreign-domiciled.
If you fail to maintain your trademark registration, it will expire and you will lose all legal rights and protections that come with it.
To keep your trademark active, you must file maintenance documents with the USPTO at specific times during the life of your registration. These prove to the office that your mark is still actively used in commerce. Significant legal requirements include:
- A Declaration of Use and/or Excusable Nonuse under Section 8, filed between the 5th and 6th years after the registration date
- A Declaration of Use and/or Excusable Nonuse, as well as an Application for Renewal under Sections 8 and 9, filed between the 9th and 10th years after the registration date
- Subsequent Declarations of Use and/or Excusable Nonuse, as well as an Application for Renewal under Sections 8 and 9, filed every 10 years after that (between the 19th and 20th years, 29th and 30th years, and years onwards)
There is a six-month grace period after each deadline, during which you can file but need to pay an additional fee. If you fail to file your maintenance documents before the end of the grace period, your registration will be canceled or deemed expired.
Trademark Renewal and Maintenance Costs
As your trademark ages, trademark renewal costs will fluctuate, so it is crucial to consider them when planning your trademark protection strategy. The fees to renew a trademark are as follows:
The above fees are applicable to only class of goods and services. If your trademark is registered in multiple classes, you will have to pay a renewal fee for each additional class.
What To Expect After Filing
After you submit a maintenance document, it will be reviewed by a post-registration Trademark examiner, a process that can take 1-2 months. Depending on the documents you have submitted, you will receive one of the following documents from the USPTO:
- If you have filed a section 8 or section 71 declaration, or you've renewed a section 9 declaration, or if you have an acknowledgment of your section 15 declaration, the USPTO will send you a notice. It could be either a Notice of Acceptance, a Notice of Renewal, or a Notice of Acknowledgment.
- If your section 7 request to amend or correct the registration is acceptable, the USPTO will send an updated registration certificate that reflects the changes requested in your filing.
- If you submit a section 8, section 71, or section 9 renewal application that the USPTO finds unacceptable, you will receive an office action that lists the reasons for its refusal, along with any remedies available. You may also receive an office action if your submission has been selected for a post-registration audit. If you fail to respond to an office action for a section 8 declaration or section 71 declaration, your registration will be canceled or expire. If you fail to respond, or respond inadequately, to an office action regarding a section 7 request or 15 declaration, the filing will become abandoned.
It is your responsibility as a trademark owner to keep an eye out for these, and other relevant notices by checking your USPTO trademark status at least once every six months.
Don’t Let Your Trademark Lapse
If you fail to renew your trademark registration, you may lose all legal protections and rights associated with your trademark. Your mark may eventually become public domain, and anyone will be able to use it without consequence.
Maintaining your trademark can be tricky—but we can help. With Digip, you can easily manage your trademarks and create a trademark protection strategy that adds value to your business over time. To get personalized recommendations from trademark experts, book a free consultation with us today.