Trademark rights can be very important, and the process to get a trademark can take some time. While the timing can be dependent on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding your particular trademark, the whole process typically takes about a year in total to complete.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Trademark?
There is a general timeline and process to take to get a trademark, going from its initial inception to ultimate trademark approval with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). In most cases, the time frame is about 8-10 months to get a trademark registered.
Trademark Application Timeline
Step 1: Decide on the Final Version of Your Trademark
Certainly one of the most important first steps in the trademark process is to make sure you are 100% certain of your final trademark before you initiate steps you need to take to get a trademark.
Having to change your trademark mid-way through the process will only delay the approval process. Meanwhile, others will have the opportunity to obtain that trademark before you are able to file your application.
Step 2: Conduct Trademark Searches
Once you have determined your final trademark, you will want to search through the USPTO’s trademark database, called the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). The TESS database contains all trademark registrations and pending applications. The USPTO has published some tips for searching through the TESS database.
It’s a good idea to test out different variations of your trademark name within the TESS database. Search for the trademark name within related fields and industries to determine any potentially similar competing products.
This way, your results will be as comprehensive as possible and will help you find any potential conflicting trademarks that could impede your trademark application.
This is where it’s a good idea to consult an intellectual property attorney who is more knowledgeable about the TESS database and can make sure any potential competing trademarks may already exist.
Depending on whether you decide to consult an attorney, these searches can take anywhere from one day to a few weeks. It is generally a good idea to spread your searching out over at least a few days so that you are resetting your brain and able to apply new ideas and concepts to make sure you get the most comprehensive search possible.
Step 3: Prepare and Submit Your Trademark Application
Draft and submit your trademark application as soon as it is feasible. It is incredibly important that you submit your trademark application quickly to reserve what is called a “priority date.” Your rights to use your trademark on goods and services and to exclude others from doing so begins on the date you file your trademark application with the USPTO.
This means that once you file your trademark application, you can breathe a sigh of relief through the registration process. Even if the USPTO processes take a long time to ultimately approve your trademark application, that doesn’t matter from a legal rights perspective.
Once you have filed your trademark application, you have the superior rights to that trademark and can stop others from any competing use that is likely to cause confusion.
To file your trademark application, use the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). There are two application forms for you to choose from:
- TEAS Plus
- TEAS Regular/Standard
The difference between the TEAS Plus and TEAS Regular is the ability to choose from a specific list of classifications to place your goods or services in, or if it is important to draft specific language for your product or service’s classification. The fees range between the two application forms between $250-$350 per classification, depending on how many classifications you choose.
Another important step is to make sure you have used your trademark in commerce by the time you submit your trademark application. This is vital to actually getting your trademark approved. You will file a statement of use with your application. This statement of use shows the use of your trademark with the goods or services that you identified in your trademark application.
Alternatively, if you won’t be using your trademark in commerce by the time you submit your application and can’t file a statement of use, you can file under an “intent to use” rather than a statement of use.
This means that you will certify you imminently intend to use your trademark in commerce. Moreover, you will need to have used the trademark in commerce within six months of approval from the USPTO and will need to provide them with supporting evidence of that use.
Step 4: Work Alongside the USPTO Examining Attorney
The final step in the trademark application timeline is to work with the USPTO examining attorney that is assigned to work through your trademark application. This USPTO examining attorney may ask a lot of questions of you, or the examining attorney may have none. Typically, these questions will be posed in the form of office actions. Office actions are official communications from the USPTO that require a response from you.
In general, be prompt and responsive to any office actions that you may receive. The sooner you respond, the quicker you can get to the finish line. But also make sure the responses are thorough and provide as much evidence in support of any responses.
Step 5: Receive Trademark Approval
Once you have responded to all office actions and any other potential issues that arise, the USPTO will publish your trademark in a magazine they produce called the Official Gazette.
From there, people have 30 days to review your trademark in the Official Gazette, They then have the ability to contest your trademark with the USPTO for 30 days. If the 30 days pass after being published in the Official Gazette with no one contesting your trademark, or once any potential issue has been resolved, the USPTO will officially issue your trademark registration.
Specifically, the USPTO will issue a certificate of registration. This certificate of registration is the official registration and approval of your trademark with the USPTO. Alternatively, if you filed an intent to use the application, it will issue a notice of allowance.
A notice of allowance is a written notification from the USPTO that a specific trademark has survived the publication period in the Official Gazette, and has consequently been allowed.
Potential Delays in Getting a Trademark
The greatest potential for delays in receiving trademark registration with the USPTO is the stage in which you are working with a USPTO examining attorney. The issuing and response to office actions can take a significant amount of time. This will depend of course, on how extensive the questions are to you, and how quickly you can assemble a well-reasoned response to the USPTO.
It is typically a good idea to engage a trademark attorney to help you respond to any USPTO office actions. Trademark attorneys are experienced in working with the USPTO and know the type of responses and supporting evidence that the USPTO will be looking for.
This can make the overall time frame much shorter than if you tried to respond on your own, which may result in numerous back and forth with the USPTO.
Another potential delay point is if you file an intent to use application. This is because you won’t receive official approval and registration from the USPTO until you file a statement and submit evidence that your trademark has actually been used in commerce. This evidence must be submitted within six months of receiving word from the USPTO.