[Updated: March 4, 2021]
How much does it cost to register a trademark and how long will it take?
Those are usually first the two questions asked by business owners and individuals who are interested in obtaining a federal registration on their trademark.
Creative entrepreneurs also ask how trademarks really work and how to get one. But those are usually afterthoughts.
Here's a snapshot of the cost and a timeline for an application for registration of a trademark that is already being used. The timeline is slightly different if you are filing an intent to use application.
The filing fee paid to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") can range from $250 to $750 for each international class in which registration is sought. You can benefit from the lowest filing fee if you use the USPTO Trademark ID Manual to identify your goods and services. If you would like to describe your goods and services in your own words, you must pay $350 per class.
Electronic filing of trademark applications is now mandatory. There are a few exceptions available for filing a paper application. If you want to use regular mail and a paper application, you'll pay $750 per class.
Note: Filing fees are prone to change periodically, so double check these numbers with the Trademark Office.
3 months after application
Once the application is submitted, there is a three month pre-examination period during which your application will be assigned to an examining attorney at the USPTO.
4 months after application
Once it has been assigned, the application is reviewed by the examining attorney which can take about a month.
If there are any problems with the application, the examining attorney may issue an Office Action requiring certain amendments, clarifications, or denying registration based on the existence of other applications or registrations which the examining attorney believes to be confusingly similar.
A response to an Office Action must be filed within six months. More than one Office Action might be issued, so the timing of this stage of the application can be different for different marks.
If you do not respond to an Office Action, your application will be considered abandoned.
5 months after application
After any issues raised in Office Actions have been resolved with the examining attorney, the mark will be approved for publication in the Official Gazette and the 30-day opposition period begins.
During the opposition period, other trademark holders have the chance to file an opposition action to the proposed mark if they believe there will be consumer confusion. Opposition actions take a long time and are expensive.
A thorough screening of your mark before you file an application will reduce, if not eliminate, the risk of an opposition action.
8 months after application
If no opposition action is filed, then about three months after the opposition period ends, the trademark registration will issue.
other important dates
Five Years after Registration
In the year before the sixth-year anniversary of the registration, you need to file a Section 8 declaration of continued use. If the declaration is accepted, your registration will remain in force for the rest of the initial ten-year period. You must include a specimen of use with this filing.
Failure to file this declaration will result in the cancellation of the registration. You can combine the Section 8 filing with a Section 15 declaration of inconstestability.
Ten Years after Registration
In the year before the tenth-year anniversary of the registration, you need to file a Section 8 declaration of continued use and a Section 9 application for renewal of the registration. Failure to file this declaration will result in the cancellation of the registration.
Trademarks Can Last Forever
Trademarks can last for as long as you use them. They are not limited to a certain term of years like copyrights, but to keep the registration alive, you must renew it.
continue to renew
Every Ten Years
A declaration of continued use and renewal must be filed every ten years to keep prevent your registration from being canceled.
If you miss the filing deadlines, there is a six month grace period. It comes with an additional fee.
Even during COVID, the USPTO has been able to issue trademark registrations in about 7 1/2 months.
What has your experience been with applying for a trademark? Was it smooth sailing or did you have to answer an Office Action?
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