One of the most common tasks any lawyer undergoes, especially in their fledgling years, is registering a trademark.
Many new lawyers and their clients ask the same question- how long can you expect to wait for your trademark?
Generally, you can expect to wait around 10-18 months for the United States Patent & Trademark Office, or USPTO, to legally finalize your patent.
However, this timeframe can vary wildly; some trademarks may arrive in a matter of months, but others may take years. Such a timeframe varies based on how thoroughly you reviewed your application and sheer luck.
Thankfully, there are measures you can take to protect your trademark rights even while it undergoes review.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about the timeframe for registering a trademark!

File Your Trademark ASAP

The best way to save time on registering a trademark is to file your application as soon as possible.
The application process is full of potential delays that can stretch the application period far into the potential future, so the best way to get a headstart is to meticulously fill out an application and file it as soon as the paperwork is complete.

Common Law Trademark Rights

Before you even file a trademark application, you have something called a common law trademark right- as long as you’ve been using your trademark in commerce.
Common law trademark rights kick in as soon as you identify a name or logo with a set of products or services.
Theoretically speaking, you don’t need a federal trademark- however, federal trademarks have significant benefits that common law trademarks do not, including the ability to legally pursue any imitators.

Trademark Pending Protection

You’ve heard the phrase ‘patent pending’ before. Thankfully, trademarks have a very similar mechanic.
Your trademark gains protection the second that you file your application, and once you gain approval, you retroactively gain rights back to the initial date of filing.
The USPTO does not have a rapid application process. However, they understand this, and you can use certain images to indicate that your trademark is pending to ward off any imitators.

What Happens After I Submit My Trademark Application?

Submitting your trademark application does not mean automatic approval. The application process is just that- a process.
You or your clients may not be satisfied with how long the application process takes, but that is because the USPTO is a meticulous organization.
Let’s look at what the application process entails and why it can take so long to register a trademark.

The USPTO Reviews Your Application

The USPTO is the ultimate authority for trademarks in America. It will assign an attorney to review your application, comparing it to existing trademarks and judging whether it merits approval.
The examining attorney may ask several questions or request certain changes to your trademark application before approval, and even then, may deny your approval entirely.
Typically, most delays happen during this stage.
The USPTO only has so many attorneys on staff and receives a large volume of trademark applications. As such, it may take roughly four months for the USPTO to begin the review process.

The Trademark Official Gazette Published Your Trademark

Did you know that the USPTO has an official publication? The Trademark Official Gazette is a weekly trademark compendium that the USPTO releases every Tuesday.
Once an examining attorney approves your trademark and believes it negates any potential objections or issues, the Trademark Official Gazette will publish it.
Once it is published, other entities have 30 days to contest it if they believe that the trademark may cause harm.
An objection will cause a formal proceeding to judge the merit of the objections. If the objections are sustained, your trademark may be canceled or delayed. Otherwise, you move on to the next step.

You Receive Evidence Of Your Trademark

Once the ordeal is over, you will receive evidence of your trademark. This evidence will come in the form of a registration certificate, typically four months after the Trademark Official Gazette publishes your trademark.
The registration certificate helps prove that you are the owner of your trademark and ends the application process.
Typically, in a smooth application process with minimal- if any- roadblocks, you will receive your registration certificate around 18 months after your initial application.
However, there are other timeline aspects to consider.

Maintaining Your Trademark

A trademark is not a one-and-done deal, and registering it is only the beginning. You have to apply to renew your trademark in a set period once the USPTO approves it.
Maintaining your trademark is a constant endeavor. As long as you have your trademark, you will have to prevent unauthorized or generic use.
However, the question there is simple- how long do you have your trademark?
Initially, your trademark is viable for five years. After five years, but before six years, you must file a renewal.
After that, you must renew during the ninth year. Finally, any further renewals are due every tenth year.

Delays May Happen

As with many lengthy processes, you can expect delays to happen while registering your trademark.
The USPTO may issue an office action, which can be any of the following:
  • Required clarification
  • Required correction
  • Conflicting trademarks
Office actions have a six-month window for a response, so the time an office action takes depends on how quickly you respond.
Additionally, if any other entity disputed your trademark, it can delay or entirely upturn your approval depending on how strong their claim is.

Intent To Use

If you have not used your trademark yet but are intending to do so in good faith, you can file an intent-to-use application, also known as an ITU.
If you file an ITU, much of the process will be similar, except you receive a notice of allowance rather than a registration certificate.
However, one notable factor about ITUs is that you can request an extension, granting you more time to protect your trademark before using it in commerce.
Extension grants are not guaranteed but may extend the amount of time it takes to register your trademark.
This extension varies depending on how much time you apply for, so it’s hard to get a solid grasp on how this can affect your timeline.

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