How Long Does a Trademark Last

How long does a trademark last? Trademark filing is relatively simple, but the United States Patent and Trademark Office forces trademark holders to be responsible for registering and maintaining a trademark.

Registering a trademark.
When you register a trademark, the trademark is good for 10 years. In theory, you can renew a trademark ad infinitum as long as the trademark continues to be in use. However, if a trademark is no longer in use, you can't continue to register it for the sake of arbitrarily holding a trademark. A few exclusions exist where you can continue to register a trademark even if you're not currently using it; consult the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for specifics.

File the necessary paperwork between years five and six.
One thing that the USPTO doesn't warn you about is that you must file an affidavit of use between years five and six of your trademark. The USPTO does not send you a reminder notice or alert you in any way when this deadline appears. If you fail to file the affidavit, your trademark is automatically canceled. However, you have a grace period for up to six months after the beginning of your sixth year wherein you can renew your trademark by filing the appropriate paperwork and paying a fee.

You can renew trademarks indefinitely, in theory.
You can continue to renew a trademark for 10-year terms. The only caveat is that the mark must currently be in use. If you've filed your affidavit of use paperwork properly between years five and six, you can file to renew your trademark in its ninth year. However, if you don't file your paperwork in time, you can still renew your trademark during the 6-month grace period following the end of the trademark term for an additional fee.

Beware trademark popularity.
Some trademark-protected terms have gotten so popular that they no longer qualify for protection under trademark law. If a trademark is generic or if it meets certain standards of general use, you can't file for trademark protection, even if it was formerly protected. Aspirin is one example of a formerly trademark-protected term that entered the general lexicon to the point that it no longer qualified for trademark protection. If your trademarked term or phrase gets too popular, you may lose the benefits of trademark protection.

Don't miss important trademark dates.
If you miss important trademark dates, such as filing your affidavit of use or filing your renewal, you have only a six-month grace period in which to file these important documents. If you miss the grace period, you're out of luck on filing your trademark. If no one else files your trademark, you may be able to make a new trademark filing for the same mark. However, if your trademark lapses and someone else files for the mark, you may be out of luck, so don't miss those important trademark dates.

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