Clients often ask if it’s possible to file a trademark application if they have not yet started doing business under the proposed trademark name. The answer is YES. You can file what’s called an “intent-to-use” trademark application to begin securing your trademark rights even before you start doing business.

An intent-to-use trademark application is a federal trademark application in which the applicant states that it is not currently using the trademark in commerce as part of its business, but that it plans to do so in the near future. The applicant must have a bona-fide intention to begin using the trademark in commerce at the time of filing this type of trademark application.

If the U.S. Trademark Office approves the intent-to-use trademark application, and if no third-parties oppose the application during the 30-day opposition period, then the Trademark Office will issue a “Notice of Allowance,” which basically requires the trademark applicant to prove within 6 months that it has begun to use the trademark in commerce since the date of filing. However, the applicant may request extensions of time to prove use for up to 2.5 years (although there are additional fees attached to each extension request). Once the necessary proof of use is filed and accepted by the Trademark Office, the Office will issue the┬átrademark registration.