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Trademark Esquire.com - Trademark Registation and Enforcement

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The Trademark Registration Process
 

The Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO") is responsible for the Federal registration of trademarks. When an application is filed, it is reviewed to determine if it meets the requirements for receiving a filing date. If the filing requirements are not met, the entire mailing, including the fee, is returned to the applicant. If the application meets the filing requirements, it is assigned a serial number, and the applicant is sent a filing receipt.

 

The first part of the registration process is a determination by the Trademark Examining Attorney as to whether the mark may be registered. An initial determination of registrability, listing any statutory grounds for refusal as well as any procedural informalities in the application, is issued about four-five months after filing. The applicant must respond to any objections raised within six months, or the application will be considered abandoned. If, after reviewing the applicant's response, the Examining Attorney makes a final refusal of registration, the applicant may appeal to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, an administrative tribunal within the PTO.

 

Once the Examining Attorney approves the mark, the mark will be published in the Trademark Official Gazette, a weekly publication of the PTO. Any other party then has 30 days to oppose the registration of the mark, or request an extension of time to oppose. An opposition is similar to a proceeding in the Federal district courts, but is held before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. If no opposition is filed, the application enters the next stage of the registration process.

 

If the mark published based upon its actual use in commerce, a registration will issue approximately 12 weeks from the date the mark was published. If, instead, the mark published based upon applicant's statement of a bona fide intention to use the mark in commerce, a notice of allowance will issue approximately 12 weeks from the date the mark was published. The applicant then has six months from the date of the notice of allowance to either (1) use the mark in commerce and submit a statement of use, or (2) request a six-month extension of time to file a statement of use. 

 

Step 1. Application filed: The filed application is assigned a serial number. This number should always be referenced when communicating with the USPTO. The applicant can check the status of any application throughout the entire process by entering the application serial number at http://tarr.uspto.gov/ or by calling the trademark status line at 571-272-5400. Approximately 3 months go to step 2.

Step 2. USPTO reviews application: If the minimum filing requirements are met, the application is assigned to an examining attorney. The examining attorney conducts a review of the application to determine whether federal law permits registration. Filing fee(s) will not be refunded, even if the application is later refused registration on legal grounds. Approximately 1 month go to step 3a or step 3b.

Step 3a. USPTO publishes mark: If no refusals or additional requirements are identified, the examining attorney approves the mark for publication in the Official Gazette (OG). The OG, a weekly online publication, gives notice to the public that the USPTO plans to issue a registration. Approximately 1 month after approval, the mark will publish in the OG for a 30-day opposition period. Any party who believes it would be harmed by the registration may file an objection (opposition) within that 30-day period with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. No further action is taken until the opposition is resolved. Approximately 3 months go to step 8.

Step 3b. USPTO issues letter (Office action): If refusals or requirements must still be satisfied, the examining attorney assigned to the application issues a letter (Office action) stating the refusals/requirements. Within 6 months of the issuance date of the Office action, the applicant must submit a response that addresses each refusal and requirement. Within 6 months go to step 4a or step 4b.

Step 4a. Applicant timely responds: In order to avoid abandonment of the application, the applicant must submit a timely response addressing each refusal and/or requirement stated in the Office action. The examining attorney will review the submitted response to determine if all refusals and/or requirements have been satisfied. Approximately 1 to 2 months go to step 5a or step 5b.

Step 4b. Applicant does not respond and application abandons: If the applicant does not respond within 6 months from the date the Office action was issued, the application is abandoned. The term “abandoned” means that the application process has ended and the trademark will not register. Filing fees are NOT refunded when applications abandon. Abandoned applications are “dead,” since they are no longer pending or under consideration for approval. To continue the application process, the applicant must file a petition to revive the application within 2 months of the abandonment date. If more than 2 months after the abandonment date, the petition will be denied as untimely and the applicant must file a new application with the appropriate fee(s).

Step 5a. USPTO publishes mark: If the applicant's response overcomes the refusals and/or satisfies all requirements, the examining attorney approves the mark for publication in the Official Gazette (OG). The OG, a weekly online publication, gives notice to the public that the USPTO plans to issue a registration. Approximately 1 month after approval, the mark will publish in the OG for a 30-day opposition period. Any party who believes it would be harmed by the registration may file an objection (opposition) within that 30-day period with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. No further action is taken until the opposition is resolved. Approximately 3 months go to step 8.

Step 5b. USPTO issues final letter (Office action): If the applicant's response fails to overcome the refusals and/or satisfy the outstanding requirements, the examining attorney will issue a “Final” refusal letter (Office action). The Office action makes “final” any remaining refusals or requirements. An applicant may respond to a final office action by a) overcoming the refusals and complying with the requirements or b) appealing to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Within 6 months go to step 6a or step 6b.

Step 6a. Applicant timely responds and/or files appeal: To avoid abandonment of the application, the applicant must submit a timely response addressing each refusal and/or requirement stated in the “Final” refusal letter (Office action). Alternatively, or in addition to the response, the applicant may also submit a Notice of Appeal to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). The examining attorney will review the submitted response to determine if all refusals and/or requirements have been satisfied. If the applicant's response fails to overcome the refusals and/or satisfy the outstanding requirements, the application will be abandoned unless the applicant has filed a Notice of Appeal, in which case the application is forwarded to the TTAB. The term “abandoned” means that the application process has ended and the trademark will not register. Filing fees are not refunded when applications abandon. Abandoned applications are “dead,” since they are no longer pending or under consideration for approval. Approximately 1 to 2 months go to step 7a or step 7b.

Step 6b. Applicant does not respond and application abandons: If the applicant does not respond within 6 months from the date the Office action was issued and the applicant has not filed a Notice of Appeal to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, the application is abandoned. The term “abandoned” means that the application process has ended and trademark will not register. Filing fees are not refunded when applications abandon. Abandoned applications are “dead,” since they are no longer pending or under consideration for approval. To continue the application process, the applicant must file a petition to revive the application within 2 months of the abandonment date, with the appropriate fee. If more than 2 months after the abandonment date, the petition will be denied as untimely and the applicant must file a new application with the appropriate fee(s).

Step 7a. USPTO publishes mark: If the applicant's response overcomes the refusals and/or satisfies all requirements of the “Final” refusal letter (Office action), the examining attorney approves the mark for publication in the Official Gazette (OG). The OG, a weekly online publication, gives notice to public that USPTO plans to issue a registration. Approximately 1 month after approval, the mark will publish in the OG for a 30-day opposition period. Any party who believes it would be harmed by the registration may file an objection (opposition) within that 30-day period with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. No further action is taken until the opposition is resolved. Approximately 3 months go to step 8.

Step 7b. Applicant's appeal sent to TTAB: If the applicant's response does not overcome the refusals and/or satisfy all of the requirements and the applicant has filed a Notice of Appeal with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), the appeal will be forwarded to the TTAB. Information about the TTAB can be found at www.uspto.gov.

Step 8. Mark registers: Within approximately 3 months after the mark published in the Official Gazette, if no opposition was filed, then the USPTO issues a registration. If an opposition was filed but it was unsuccessful, the registration issues when the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board dismisses the opposition. After a registration issues, to keep the registration “alive” the registrant must file specific maintenance documents. Between 6 to 7 years go to step 9 and every 10 years go to step 10.

Step 9. Registration owner files Section 8 declaration: Before the end of the 6-year period after the registration date, or within the six-month grace period after the expiration of the sixth year, the registration owner must file a Declaration of Use or Excusable Nonuse under Section 8. Failure to file this declaration will result in the cancellation of the registration.

Step 10. Registration owner files Section 8 declaration/Section 9 renewal: Within one year before the end of every 10-year period after the registration date, or within the six-month grace period thereafter, the registration owner must file a Combined Declaration of Use or Excusable Nonuse/Application for Renewal under Sections 8 & 9. Failure to make these required filings will result in cancellation and/or expiration of the registration.

 

Robert S. Broder, Esq. • 2903 Preston Lane • Merrick, NY 11566
Phone: 516.771.0349 • rsbroder@optonline.net

admitted New York and Connecticut

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