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How long does it take for a trademark application to mature into a trademark registration?How long does it take for a trademark application to mature into a trademark registration?
Once the application is filed, the USPTO takes 10 to 18 months should the application mature to a registration. However, the filing date is the most important date, for if the mark is registered, protection dates back to the filing date. Our clients are promptly informed of all developments as they occur.
1. The Examination Process
Approximately four months after filing the application, an examining attorney at the USPTO reviews the application and determines whether the mark may be registered. If the examining attorney decides 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 application with be deemed abandoned.
The most common grounds for refusal is 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.
Further (but less common) grounds of refusal include that the mark was determined 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 the next question, which describes the different categories of marks.
2. Publication for Opposition
If the examining attorney raises no objections to registration, or if the applicant overcomes all objections, the examining attorney will approve the mark for publication in the Official Gazette, a weekly publication of the USPTO. The USPTO 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 application matures to a registered mark or receives a Notice of Allowance.
3. Registration or Notice of Allowance
If the application was for a mark already used in commerce, the USPTO would register the mark and issue a registration certificate generally about four months after the date the mark was published.
If the mark was filed on an Intent-to-Use basis, the USPTO 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 will issue a registration certificate.