Updated November 10, 2020:

When Does My Trademark Expire?

Trademarks can last indefinitely with proper maintenance and continual use. They must be renewed every 10 years and there are a few conditions for keeping the registration active. The trademark owner must file different documents at various intervals to maintain ownership and continue legal protection against infringement.

Even though trademarks are valid for 10 years, there some additional requirements during the first decade. After the fifth anniversary of your registration date, you'll need to file a Declaration of Use showing the mark is actively being used in business. The owner must also file Section 8 and Section 9 Declarations between the ninth and tenth year after registration, for which a combined form is provided. If there are no issues, the trademark can be renewed for another 10 years, and every 10 year period thereafter.

Registration Benefits

You can register a trademark at the state level, but the protection is not as robust as if you register on the federal level. Federal registration offers a public record of your trademark ownership and gives you legal rights to sue for infringement. International trademark registration must be done via the Madrid Register, connected with the WIPO.

Types of Infringement

Violating a brand's trademark rights is illegal. It can undermine the owner's values and compromise customers. The company that owns the mark will claim one of two types of infringement: confusability and dilution. Confusability tests whether it's likely consumers will get confused about which brand refers to which company. Dilution is more of a problem for larger brands because although you may not confuse a cola soft drink called Koka-Kola with the real thing if Koka-Kola was actually a cereal, this might weaken consumers' connection with the real thing to soda.

Reasons to Renew a Trademark on Time

Registering your trademark ensures you maintain exclusive rights to the mark. If you don't renew on time, you lose your rights. Your competitor would be within their full legal right to come in and claim ownership. Not to mention there are many costs associated with re-registering.

Reasons Not to Renew a Trademark

If you no longer use the trademark and have no intent to reactivate it, then there's no need to renew the mark. If you stop using your trademark, the court can determine that you have abandoned the mark. If you have unintentionally failed to respond to the USPTO request to renew the trademark, a petition to revive a trademark registration might be allowed.

Copyrights are automatic. That is as soon as the idea comes to fruition, that item is copyrighted. Trademarks and patents differ in that they require registration to be legally protected. Copyrights typically protect artists, while trademarks protect the identity of a brand. Patents typically protect the work of inventors.

  • Patents normally expire 20 years after the date it's filed.

  • Copyright protection is based on a fixed term 70 years after the death of the author.

  • A trade secret can be protected forever, as long as the secret is valuable and can be protected.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What happens if I let my trademark expire?

Fortunately, the USPTO offers a six-month grace period, before the mark is considered abandoned. They wait an additional two months after that before they officially post notice of its abandonment. If you let your trademark expire, you leave it open for another company or user to register and use it. If the products or services are different than yours, the other company may have an easier time acquiring your trademark.

  • How do I renew a trademark?

In most countries, you'll need to contact a Trademark Attorney to file the registration renewal on your behalf.

Your trademark renewal can be refused. To renew a trademark you must show that the mark is in use.

  • What if I haven't used my trademark?

In many countries, proof of use is not actually required to renew a registration once the trademarked term expires.

Contact an Attorney

If you need help renewing your trademark, you can post your question or concern on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.