Registering your trademark is an important part to protect your work from being copied or used by others. But what happens once your trademark is granted? Does it ever expire? Our attorneys explain how to maintain your trademark registered indefinitely and the steps you should take to achieve it.

What Is a Trademark?

A trademark protects your branding assets from imitation, granting you ownership and exclusive rights to using a certain set of brand colors, symbols, logo, design, slogan, or any unique combination of visual assets that are used to identify your brand in the marketplace. By registering a trademark, you get control over how and where your trademarked branding assets are used and may allow others to use it through a licensing deal.

What Are the Steps to Obtaining a Trademark?

The first step to obtaining a trademark is to do in-depth research to make sure the ideas you want to trademark aren’t already owned or used by someone else. Next, you will prepare your application, which may include several pieces of information about you, your business, the items you intend to trademark, and the required application fee.

Once your application is complete, you can file it online with the USPTO Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). It may take several months for your application to be processed. Once your application is approved, you will have about six months to file a statement of use, showing the USPTO that you have used the mark.

How Can You Keep Your Trademark Registered and Active?

The USPTO requires trademark holders to use their trademark in commerce. For that reason, trademark holders are required to submit certain documents periodically showing that they have been using their mark in commerce. Typically, every sixth and tenth year after receiving your trademark, you will need to file a Declaration of Continued Use along with a sample or “specimen” showing how you are currently using your mark. You may also need to file a renewal application for your trademark every ten years.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Commercial Use Requirement for Trademarks?

The USPTO rarely grants excusable non-use exceptions for trademark holders. If you have not been using your trademark commercially, you will likely need to present a valid justification to keep your trademark active. If your business was affected by COVID, you may request to be temporarily excused from using your trademark.

If you need help registering or renewing a trademark, it may be in your best interest to consult an attorney. At Davis Legal, PLLC, we can assist you with all your trademark questions and legal needs. Contact us at 919-756-6437 for an initial consultation.