After they have gone through the trademark process and possess a federal registration, the most common question clients ask is, “How long does a trademark last?”
The simple answer: Your trademark will initially last for six years, but you can maintain the registration forever with a bit of maintenance. (Source: USPTO)
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) imposes many requirements on trademark registration holders if they wish to retain their rights. Failure to abide by these requirements could mean cancellation of a registration and total loss of trademark protection. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that if you follow the USPTO’s instructions, you won’t have to worry about them canceling your trademark. You can enjoy all intellectual property protections granted by the federal trademark registration under the law, as long as you perform the necessary maintenance and remain the trademark owner.
The Section 8 Declaration
The technical answer to the question of how long your trademark lasts is six years. After six years the USPTO can cancel your trademark if you haven’t filed the appropriate paperwork.
Between the fifth and sixth anniversaries of your trademark registration date, you are required to file a Section 8 Declaration. The Section 8 Declaration informs the USPTO that you are still using your trademark in commerce.
The USPTO does not want to have a bunch of trademarks on the Trademark Register that are not actually being used. The Section 8 Declaration provides proof that you are still using your trademark (or excusable nonuse). Since businesses that have gone out of business or have abandoned their marks typically will not file the Section 8 Declaration, the USPTO can cancel the registrations for failure to file.
The timing of the filing of the Section 8 Declaration is important. You cannot file the Section 8 Declaration before the five-year anniversary of your registration date, and you cannot file it after the six-year anniversary (although there is a 6-month grace period for late filings with additional fees).
For example, if your trademark was registered on July 1, 2019, then you would have to file the Section 8 Declaration sometime on or after July 1, 2024 and on or before July 1, 2025. (Worth noting – the date you filed the trademark application doesn’t matter here, just the date of the official registration.)
Read more about the Section 8 Declaration here: https://teas.uspto.gov/postreg/sect08
Combined Section 8 Declaration and Section 9 Application for Renewal
The Section 8 Declaration is not the only required trademark renewal form. It will hold your trademark rights for another few years, but after that you will have to renew your rights yet again.
After the nine-year anniversary but before the 10th year anniversary of your trademark registration date, you are required to file a Combined Section 8 Declaration and Section 9 Application for Renewal. Once again, the USPTO wants to ensure that you have not abandoned the trademark and are still using it in commerce.
The above example company, which registered on Jul 1, 2019, would have to file its Combined Section 8 and Section 9 on or after July 1, 2028, and on or before July 1, 2029. This isn’t the last time that you’ll have to file this very form.
You need to file another Combined Section 8 and Section 9 filing every 10 years. That is, you’ll need to file one between your 19th and 20th anniversary dates, and then again between your 29th and 30th anniversaries, and so on until you cease using the mark.
Using the example one last time, renewal dates for the above company would be between July 1, 2028 and July 1, 2029, then July 1, 2038 and July 1, 2039, and so on.
As long as you keep filing the renewals every 10 years after the registration date, you should be able to make your trademark last forever (or until you stop using it).