How long does it take to trademark a name? As opposed to what people new to trademarking might assume, the trademark application process is a long one. There are common elements which will affect the time it will take to reach a successful registration of your trademark. Careful examination of these will help you identify areas in which you can optimize and speed up your application, even though the speed largely depends on the state you're in.

Length of Steps in the Trademark Process

  • United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reviews the application - 4 to 6 months
  • Dealing with an Office action (a document you receive if your application is refused on whatever grounds) - 4 to 6 months
  • Period of publication in the Trademark Official Gazette - 2 to 3 months
  • USPTO issuing the Certificate of Registration - 2 to 3 months

Assuming you have to deal with an Office action, you'll get a trademark in about 13-18 months after starting the process. Learning about each aspect of the process will help you understand why it takes so long and what can you proactively do to shorten the length and ensure everything goes smoothly.

The Quality of the Name

It's necessary to choose an original and expressive name, as its quality can affect the length of your application to a large extent. A name or symbol that is similar or conflicts with an existing trademark will have much more trouble going through the USPTO. It will get rejected in most cases, and you'll have to start again. Furthermore, names that are just descriptions of your products are considered low-quality and will present a hurdle to your application.

Incorrect or Incomplete Applications

Because of the inconsistency of application forms and rules among the states, they cause delay to anyone not familiar with that particular state's laws. You have to take extra care to fulfill every requirement and provide all the necessary information when filling out the form. This will save you time in the long term. It's prudent to familiarize yourself with that particular state's rules and regulations, and if it is too much, you can always hire an attorney.

Distinguishing Between Use and Intent to Use

A trademark is, essentially, an identifier of a product supplier or a service provider, and the active use of your mark is necessary to keep your trademark protected. Use is defined differently in different regions around the world, which presents a problem for anyone who wants to engage in international business. In the EU, you are allowed to start using your trademark after five years of acquiring it. You don't need to have your mark in use prior to filing the application.

The laws in the US are stricter, however. If you're not using your brand, you'll have to apply on an intent to use basis, and this has its own set of problems, as you'll have to deal with extra steps in the process, which translates into a longer wait period before you have your trademark.

Failing to Respond to an Office Action

If there's an issue with your application, the PTO will issue an Office action, which gives you a chance to rectify the mistakes within a time limit. However, if you fail to respond to an Office action until the deadline, you'll have to deal with quite a lengthier process, and in some cases, your application will be completely rejected, and you'll have to start over.

The Date You File

Although receiving your trademark may take upwards of a year, you'll attain protection from the minute you start your application. If you eventually got your application through, your protection rights will be retroactive from the day you filed for the trademark. For instance, if you start the application on July 1, 2018, and you got your trademark on October 1, 2019, the paperwork will show that you've had protection from the day you began the process.

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