Trademarks are vitally important elements for building a business and protecting a brand name. They can also be challenging to register for, with many searches to conduct, hoops to jump through, applications to submit, and potential competitors to fight off. Thankfully, in the United States, a trademark could potentially last forever.
However, there are a few key matters that must be tended to in order to keep the trademark registration alive.
How Best to Maintain Your Trademark?
Once a trademark has been registered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), it will typically last five to six years before it needs to be renewed. This can be done by filing a Declaration of Use and/or Excusable Nonuse under Section 8. During this stage of renewal, it must be proven that the trademark is still in use.
After that, the trademark registration must be renewed with the USPTO every ten years. This must be done at ten-year intervals throughout the life of the trademark in order to maintain its status and benefits.
How to Renew Trademark Registration?
In order to renew your trademark, certain requirements must be met. Some of the recommendations for trademark maintenance filings include:
- Declaration of Use: Also known as the section 8 affidavit, this confirms that the owner of the trademark is still using it with the same aim under which the trademark was initially registered.
- Declaration of Incontestability: Otherwise known as the section 15 affidavit, this declaration is not required, but it provides further protection for your trademark.
- Application of Renewal: The section 9 affidavit must be turned in on time in order to confirm the next ten years’ usage of the registered trademark.
The USPTO recommends that you file for renewal early. There is a six-month grace period after the renewal dates, but if you attempt to renew during that period, there will be an additional fee.
What Happens if Registration is Not Renewed?
If you have shut down your business and are no longer using your trademarked goods, the trademark will be considered abandoned by its previous owner and no longer fall under any legal protections.
If, however, you want to keep your business going, then you need to maintain your trademark protections. Failure to do so can result in seeing the trademark canceled by the US government. In such a case, you will lose ownership of the trademarked name or logo, and this could result in major setbacks for your business. If the trademark is canceled, it cannot be reinstated. There are no special cases made. You will need to begin the registration process all over again from the start.
If the COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected your business and the use of your trademark, you may potentially be excused during renewal from the requirement to have used your trademark.
Other examples of excused nonuse are considered extremely rare. Though the USPTO may be willing to excuse the lack of use of a trademark in some cases, this should not be relied upon.