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How Long Does a Trademark Last?


How Long Does a Trademark Last?

The quickest answer to that question is 10 years. But as with many legal things, it’s not quite that simple. The tenth anniversary of a trademark is when the trademark’s owner needs to prove to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that the mark is still in use. That’s an important distinction from things like patents and copyrights, which expire on their own after certain periods of time.

What Is a Trademark?

A trademark is just that: A mark, often a logo or product/brand name. A trademark gives the owner of that mark protection for their brand or image. It prevents other companies from using similar brands and images that could confuse consumers into purchasing one thing when they think they’re buying another. It helps business owners protect their brands and gives them legal leverage if someone tries to use the same or too-similar marks on similar products and services.

How Can Someone Protect Their Trademark?

The first step is to apply for a registered trademark with the USPTO. However, a trademark won’t be approved if the mark being trademarked hasn’t been used yet. Before applying, the mark must be used in business. There are several ways to do this, depending on whether the business involves goods or services.

For goods, the USPTO advises submitting photographs that show the mark in use on tags and/or labels, images from websites that show the mark as part of the website or URL, along with a date stamp to verify current use or photos on product packaging.

For services, images of the mark from brochures, flyers, office signage, on service vehicles, or of the website and URL with a date stamp can be used to verify eligibility for a registered trademark.

Once registered, it’s the trademark’s owner who is responsible for maintaining the trademark. That means keeping the business operational. It also means that on the tenth anniversary of the trademark approval, the owner needs to submit proof that the mark is still in current use. If that proof isn’t submitted and approved, the trademark can lapse—and other people and businesses can take advantage of that.

Can Someone Keep a Trademark for Future Use?

There are sometimes cases where someone wants to trademark something they’re not yet using or have stopped using but plan to start again in the future. Neither of those scenarios is acceptable to the USPTO. Marks can only have trademarks if they’re currently being used for the business.

If a trademark has lapsed

Let Us Advise You

If you need assistance applying for, renewing, or learning more about trademarks and the trademark process, call us at 317-663-9190 for assistance.