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How long do trademarks last?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2022 | Trademarks |

It’s common for someone to see trademark symbols when looking at a logo, packaging, name or service. The marks ® or ™ are there to inform people that a word, phrase, design or combination that identifies and distinguishes unique goods and services is trademark protected because it’s registered with the United State Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

It helps inventors or businesses to establish and protect their products and brand, knowing that no one else can register their ownership of the trademarked item or legally financially capitalize on the protected product. It works similarly to copyrights, patents and other forms of intellectual property protection, but unlike the others, a trademark can last indefinitely.

Owners must maintain it

Whereas copyrights expire after a designated period (usually 70 years), trademarks registered with the USPTO carry on into perpetuity as long as the holder maintains it. They renew registration by proving that they still use it after five or six years. After the initial renewal, it’s done every nine or ten years as long as they file maintenance documents with the USPTO. They include:

  • Application for renewal: This confirms it’s in use.
  • Declaration of use: This affirms that the owner uses the trademark as initially issued.
  • Declaration of incontestability: This states that no one else may contest the trademark.

The holder must file these, yet the USPTO or other government entity doesn’t send out reminders about the expiration. So, it’s up to the holder or organization to remember to file the maintenance documents. If they fail to do it, the lapse can mean loss of protection and unnecessary additional expense and complication.

Those with questions about registering a trademark, maintaining it or protecting it can go to the USPTO website. Still, important issues should be handled by an intellectual property attorney who understands these issues.