How long does a trademark last?

On Behalf of | Feb 3, 2022 | Trademarks |

Just about everyone has noticed those trademark symbols when reading the packaging of some product. A trademark is used for a name, word, service, logo or emblem, widget, or a combination of these. They can be used for inventions or upgrades to existing products.

They also help consumers easily recognize a specific company or brand, which can encourage customer loyalty. In other words: Trademarks help establish and protect a brand.

It can last forever

Whereas a copyright expires after a designated period, a trademark can theoretically last forever. First, the applicant must register it with the United States Patent Trade Office (USPTO), and if it is still used after five or six years, the holder can renew the registration. The renewal is done every ten years when the applicant files maintenance documents with the USPTO. These include:

  • Declaration of use: This says the owner still uses it as initially issued.
  • Declaration of incontestability: This says that no one can contest the trademark.
  • Application for renewal: This is filed in the ninth or tenth year after the registration date and confirms the ongoing use of the trademark.

The USPTO does not send out reminders about the expiration, so the individual or organization that holds the trademark is responsible for filing maintenance documents. Failure to do so can lead to loss of protection, unnecessary complications and expense.

No international protections

The USPTO is part of the federal government. It has no authority on other sovereign lands outside the United States, but there may be agreements between countries or coalitions that honor the protections. Trademark holders can submit trademark applications for each country they do business in or file a Madrid Protocol application, European Union application or file with other organizations, depending on the country or countries involved.

Those with specific trademark questions find it helpful to work with trademark attorneys who handle protections domestically and internationally.

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