How long does it take?
Business owners and entrepreneurs are often under the gun in meeting deadlines to push along their ventures. Whether it be a date for a product launch, a timeline for fulfilling a large purchase order, or something similar, these timelines are often looked at in matters of weeks. With most things in the realm of the law, however, these shorter timelines are not often realistic. So, the answer of how long it will take to receive your federal trademark registration after submitting your application depends on what situation you are currently in. These situations can generally be placed into two groups:
1) Currently Using Trademark in “Commerce”
Under this section, your application is filed under Section 1(a). This means you are currently using your trademark publicly by selling your goods/services with the mark being visible. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers a general guideline for what to expect. This will give you a general timeline after filing your application. It can be broken down like this:
Simply put, if your application is submitted and no issues arise, such as opposition to your trademark or various legal technicalities the USPTO might need clarification for, you can usually expect your trademark to be registered within 5-7 Months. If issues do arise with your application, you’re looking at a timeline from 7 Months up to 2 years.
2) Intent to Use the Trademark
Under this section, your application is filed under Section 1(b). This means you intend to use that trademark in the future in commerce. Or, alternatively, you currently aren’t using it but plan to. This is smart for entrepreneurs and business owners who are looking to the future when planning their ventures. This process has a couple added steps and looks like this:
The process, though similar to the 1(a) application. This version includes the trademark applicant filing a “Statement of Use”, after receiving a “Notice of Allowance”. This means that the USPTO has approved the mark to be yours once you start using it. Importantly, you do have to file the statement of use before actually using the trademark.
When Should I Register My Trademark?
If you’re reading this, the answer is most likely right now. Based on when you file the trademark application with the USPTO, you have a “priority date” placed on your application, meaning if someone later comes along and tries to register the same trademark or even begins using it after you submit your application, you will have priority over them and can enforce your trademark rights over that person.
The United States is a “first to use or file” trademark jurisdiction, meaning that the first business owner or entrepreneur to use that trademark, or to file for that trademark before someone else has used it or filed for it gives them priority over the other person. We see time and again issue arise, including extensive infringement litigation occur because they are slow to file for trademark registration. So simply put, if you are already using the trademark register right away. If you are planning to use this trademark in the future, quickly file an intent to use application to get your trademark protected right away.