Trademark rights can be very important, and the process to get a trademark registered 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 register a trademark.
Trademark Application Timeline
Step 1: Decide on the Final Version of Your Trademark
Certainly one of the most important first steps in the trademark application process is to make sure you are 100% certain of your final trademark before you initiate the steps you need to take to register a trademark.
Having to change your trademark mid-way through the trademark process will only delay the approval process. Meanwhile, others will have the opportunity to obtain that trademark protection before you are able to file your initial application.
Step 2: Conduct Trademark Searches
Once you have determined your final trademark, you will want to search through the USPTO’s trademark database for existing marks, called the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). The TESS database contains all trademark registration and pending mark applications. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has published some tips for searching through the TESS database.
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 or an existing mark may already exist
Depending on whether you decide to consult an attorney, a trademark search 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 application as soon as it is feasible, make sure the data entered is accurate such as what type of entity you’re filing for – eg., an individual, an LLC, a partnership, etc. It is incredibly important that you submit your application quickly to reserve what is called a “priority date.” Your trademark protection to use your mark on goods and services and to exclude others from doing so begins on the initial date you file your application with the USPTO.
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 application 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 mark in commerce by the time you submit your trademark applications. This is vital to actually getting your mark approved. You will file a statement of use with your application. This statement of use shows the use of your mark with the goods or services that you identified in your application.
Alternatively, if you won’t be using your mark in commerce by the time you submit your application and can’t file a statement of use, you can use an “intent to use” filing rather than a statement of use.
Step 4: Work Alongside the USPTO Examining Attorney
The final step in the trademark application period is to work with the USPTO examining attorney that is assigned to work through your trademark applications. The USPTO examining trademark attorneys 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 an office action. An office action letter is an official communication from the USPTO that requires a response from you.
Once you have responded to an office action and any other potential issues that arise, the USPTO will publish your mark in a weekly publication they produce called the Official Gazette.
This is a method of publicly announcing your pending mark so people have 30 days to do a thorough review of your mark in the Official Gazette, They then have the ability to contest your mark with the USPTO for 30 days. If 30 days pass after the publication period in the Official Gazette with no one contesting your mark or potential conflict, or once any potential issue has been resolved, the USPTO will officially issue your trademark registration.
Specifically, the USPTO will issue a trademark registration certificate. This certificate of registration is the official registration and trademark’s approval with the USPTO and you’ll be the trademark holder. Alternatively, if you filed an intent to use the application, it will issue a notice of allowance.
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. A trademark attorney is experienced in working with the USPTO and knows the type of responses and supporting evidence that the USPTO will be looking for.
This legal advice 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.