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Timeline for Registering A TrademarkApplicants should generally allow a minimum of 12 to 18 months for registering a trademark. Registering a trademark involves your trademark application proceeding through various stages of the trademark application process. A trademark attorney can provide trademark assistance with all aspects of the trademark filing, including trademark design, reviewing a trademark search, informing you of the steps to getting a trademark or the cost to register a trademark, all of which increases the likelihood that you get a trademark.
1. The Examination Process
Approximately four months after the trademark filing, a trademark lawyer at the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") reviews the trademark application and determines whether the mark may be registered. Should the USPTO trademark lawyer decide that a mark should not be registered, he will issue a letter (Office Action) explaining the reasons for refusal. The applicant must respond to any objections within six months, otherwise the trademark application is deemed abandoned. Registering A Trademark or another trademark attorney can help you successfully fight this initial refusal.
The most common grounds for the trademark lawyer from the USPTO to refuse a trademark registration are likelihood of confusion between the applicant's mark and a previously registered mark or that the mark is merely descriptive in relation to the applicant's goods or services.
The trademark lawyer from the USPTO may also refuse the mark because he deems the mark to be primarily geographically descriptive, primarily geographically misdescriptive, a generic term, primarily merely a surname (Smith Apples), or a scandalous or immoral trademark. Examples of these types of trademarks are given in our trademark FAQ.
2. Publication for Opposition
The second phase to registering a trademark is publication for opposition. If the USPTO trademark lawyer raises no objections to registering a trademark, or if the applicant overcomes all objections, the USPTO trademark attorney will approve the mark for publication in the Official Gazette, a weekly publication of the USPTO. The USPTO trademark attorney will send a Notice of Publication to the applicant stating the date of publication. Any party who believes it may be damaged by registration of the mark has 30 days from the publication date to file a Notice of Opposition or a Request to Extend Time to Oppose. In the rare event of an opposition (only 3% of all marks are opposed), a proceeding similar to a trial is held to determine whether the opposition is based on valid grounds, such as the applicant's mark being confusingly similar to the opposer's mark. If no opposition is filed or the opposition is unsuccessful, the trademark application matures to a registered mark or receives a Notice of Allowance.
3. Registration or Notice of Allowance
The third phase to registering a trademark is the issuance of a Registration or Notice of Allowance. If the trademark application was for a mark already used in commerce, the USPTO trademark attorney would register the mark and issue a registration certificate generally about four months after the date the mark was published.
If the trademark filing was based on an Intent-to-Use basis, the USPTO trademark attorney will issue a Notice of Allowance about four months after the date of publication. 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. If the Statement of Use is filed and approved, the USPTO trademark attorney will issue a registration certificate.