Trademarks are an important part of a business. They are the best way to protect the identity of the source of particular products or services. They also help consumers easily recognize a specific company as the manufacturer or source of a product and encourage customer loyalty.
Once a trademark is registered, it is protected from use and misuse by others, and it acquires characteristics similar to other types of property. These important protections lead many trademark owners to ask – how long exactly does a trademark last?
As a general rule, a trademark owner should anticipate having enforceable protections so long as the mark is being used in commerce. However, the amount of time a trademark is enforceable depends primarily on the laws where the trademark was registered.
Duration of Trademark Protections in the U.S.
If you registered your trademark in the United States, there is a chance that you could enjoy federal protection indefinitely. The key is to ensure your trademark is renewed properly. In the U.S., trademark renewal is required every ten years. In addition, there needs to be an indication that your trademark is being actively used between the fifth and sixth year after it was registered. If your mark is still actively used within this period, the registration can be renewed when you reach the 10-year anniversary of the registration.
To properly renew your trademark, the owner is obligated to file specific maintenance documents that are required by the United States Patent Trademark Office (USPTO) within the adequate time frames. In this manner, the trademark owner needs to satisfy the legal requirements for the trademark to be renewed.
Maintenance Filing Necessary for a Trademark Renewal
Below is a list of the required maintenance filings to ensure you can extend the protections of your trademark. If you fail to supply these requirements, you expose yourself to the risk of losing your trademark rights. The necessary maintenance files include:
- A Declaration of Use (also referred to as a Section 8 Affidavit) – this document confirms that you are still using the trademark as it was originally issued.
- A Declaration of Incontestability (also referred to as a Section 15 Affidavit) – this document states that your trademark cannot be challenged.
- An Application for Renewal (also referred to as a Section 9 Affidavit) – this document needs to be filed as you are approaching the 10-year anniversary of the registration. This document serves to confirm that you are still using the mark as it was initially issued and confers ten additional years to your initial registration.
If you fail to provide the necessary maintenance documents to the USPTO, your trademark could be cancelled. To prevent this from happening, you need to keep an active registration by filing maintenance documents when it is required by law. This is incredibly important because if your trademark registration is cancelled, it cannot be reinstated. You would need to apply for a trademark registration again. While the USPTO does provide a six month grace period to renew your trademark registration, an extra fee will need to be paid.
Overseas Trademark Protection
Unfortunately, registration of a trademark in the U.S. does not provide international protection. Indeed, a trademark registered in the U.S. confers protections in the U.S. only. If you would like to secure trademark protection in other countries, you have two options to consider. First, you could apply for a trademark in your country of choice, where you want the mark to be protected. Second, you could apply for protection through a Madrid Protocol application, European Union, or other regional trademark.
Have Questions About the Protections Afforded by a Trademark? Contact an Experienced Trademark Lawyer in Los Angeles Today
If you are interested in applying for a trademark, or currently have a trademark that you believe needs to be renewed, take action by contacting an experienced trademark attorney at Omni Legal Group. Omni Legal Group is a premier Patent, Trademark, and Copyright law firm with offices in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills. For further information or to schedule a consultation with one of our highly experienced trademark attorneys, please contact Omni Legal Group at 855.433.2226 or visit www.OmniLegalGroup.com to learn more.