An Important Note
As soon as you start using your mark in commerce, you establish what is known as “Common Law Trademark Rights.” This isn’t a guarantee that the mark will “belong” to you, as it’s still very possible someone else already registered the mark. You will also have a hard time attempting to take legal action against someone else based solely on common law rights.
A common question that I frequently get in my trademark law practice is, “How long does it take to get a trademark?” The answer may surprise you – in total, it will take roughly 13 to 18 months to get a trademark. Why?
|Total||Typically 13 - 18 Months|
|USPTO reviews the application||4 - 6 months|
|Responding to the Office Action (unless there are no issues)||6 months|
|Publication period in the Official Gazette||3 months|
|USPTO issues the certificate of registration||2 - 3 months|
If you add up the initial 4-6 months to review the application, the 6 months for the response to the Office Action, the 3 months for the publication period in the Official Gazette, and the 2-3 months for the issuance of the certificate of registration, you get a total of about 13-18 months to get a trademark. This may seem like a long time to most people, but it’s important to understand exactly why it takes so long.
The Date of Filing
To start off with, it should be noted that although the entire trademark registration process may take over a year to complete, a trademark applicant attains trademark protection from the moment that the trademark application is filed. Assuming you are eventually granted a federal trademark registration, your federal trademark rights will always be retroactive to the date of the initial filing of your trademark application.
For instance, let’s say that you file a trademark application on January 1, 2019. Because it usually takes about 13-18 months to complete the trademark registration process, let’s say your trademark registration certificate is not actually issued until April 15, 2020. Even though you trademark registration certificate was not issued until April 2020, your federal trademark rights would be retroactive to date of the initial filing, which in this example is January 1, 2019.
A Brief Overview of the Registration Process & Timing
Once the trademark application is filed, it will usually take the Trademark Office about 4-6 months to review the application. In their initial review, the Trademark Office is really looking to see if there are any mistakes on the application, or if the applied-for mark conflicts with any other registered trademarks.
If the trademark application is found to be in conflict with a previously-registered mark, of if there are any other issues with the application, then the Trademark Office will issue an Office Action. An Office Action is just a letter from the Trademark Office that identifies the problems or issues with the application that must be corrected or addressed. An applicant is usually then given 6 months to respond to the Office Action.
Once all issues are addressed and all requirements are met, the Trademark Office will then approve the application for publication on the Official Gazette. The Official Gazette is a weekly publication from the Trademark Office that serves to give notice to the public that a trademark application is about to be registered. Such public notice allows third parties or other companies to come forward and dispute any trademarks that they feel would infringe upon their rights. This publication process usually takes about 3 months to complete.
Assuming no one comes forward during the publication period to dispute your trademark application, the Trademark Office will issue the trademark registration certificate about 2-3 months after publication.
It is important to remember that you will need to do a bit of work to maintain your registration. You can read more about this in our article: How Long Does a Trademark Last?
Ready to Become a Trademark Owner?
As we covered previously, if you add up the initial 4-6 months to review the application, the 6 months for the response to the Office Action, the 3 months for the publication period in the Official Gazette, and the 2-3 months for the issuance of the certificate of registration, you get a total of about 13-18 months. This is what can generally be expected in terms of timing.