Unlike copyrights, where most registrations last for life of owner plus seventy years, trademarks must actively be renewed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Once you receive your registration certificate, you can rest easy for some time – five years to be exact. After five years, you will be required to file a Section 8 Declaration of Continued Use. You may receive notification before the five year mark in order to encourage timely filing.
If you have not had continuous use since registration, you may still be able to file your Section 8 Declaration. The USPTO provides exceptions to the continuous use requirement if it is “excusable” non-use.
When filing your first Section 8 renewal, you may also want to consider submitting a Section 15 Declaration of Incontestability of a Mark. This is an optional requirement, but can be useful for registrants looking to enforce their trademark rights in a powerful way. A trademark attorney can help you determine whether or not you are eligible to file this declaration and its potential benefit to your brand.
The filing fees involved are as follows:
- Section 8: $100.00/class
- Section 15: $200/class
- Section 9: $300/class
In addition, the Combined Section 8 and 9 Renewal is required to be filed between every 9th and 10th years after registration. There are specific requirements for each filing and a trademark attorney should be consulted before submitting anything to the USPTO.
It’s easy to forget to submit these documents, especially when the deadlines are so far down the line. Although the USPTO allows for late filings, if you miss the final deadline, there is no way to revive the trademark registration and you will have to start over again. This means that you would be forced to abandon your current registration and have to file again, thereby forfeiting original filing fees. Moreover, when you file again, you risk being issued an Office Action for a §2(d) Likelihood of Confusion refusal with a what-would-be infringer ahead of you in line! Missing these deadlines can have serious consequences. Seek out an experienced IP attorney to help you keep track of all your maintenance filings and assist you in filing your renewals.