After you file your trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), you may receive an office action requesting that you provide a disclaimer of a particular element of your trademark. Usually, the requested disclaimer is for words or phrases that comprise a portion of your trademark, but the request could also be to disclaim a design or portion of a design. The good news is that dealing with a such a request is generally quite straightforward and non-controversial.
A primarily geographically descriptive trademark is only entitled to registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on the Supplemental Register, unless it has become distinctive of the products or services listed in the trademark application. If it has become distinctive, then it would be eligible for registration on the Principal Register. I invite you to review my blog post titled “Supplemental Register vs. Principal Register – What is the Difference?” so that you understand the many important differences between the two registers and the rights afforded by each one.
A deceptively misdescriptive trademark (as opposed to a deceptive trademark) is only eligible for registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on the Principal Register if it has acquired distinctiveness or “secondary meaning” in the minds of consumers. Otherwise, a deceptively misdescriptive trademark is only entitled to registration on the Supplemental Register. I encourage you to read my article titled “Supplemental Register vs. Principal Register – What is the Difference?” to learn more about the important distinctions between the two registers maintained by the USPTO.
A deceptive trademark (as opposed to a deceptively misdescriptive trademark) is not eligible for registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) under any circumstances. The Lanham Act (which is the law that governs federal trademark registration) specifically prohibits the registration of a trademark that “consists of or comprises deceptive matter.” This means that the USPTO is legally obligated to refuse registration of your trademark if it determines that your mark is wholly deceptive or includes a deceptive term.
If your trademark application has gone abandoned because you unintentionally failed to timely file the Statement of Use, an Extension of Time, or a response to a trademark office action, you may be able to revive your abandoned trademark application by filing a Petition to Revive.
Filing an intent to use trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) may be a good option if your trademark is not yet in use in commerce. It’s essentially a way to reserve your right to use a name, logo, or slogan in connection with the advertising and sale of specific products/services. Assuming your intent to use trademark application eventually becomes a trademark registration, all of your rights will date back to the filing date of the application. In other words, filing an intent to use trademark application prevents others from potentially acquiring common law trademark rights in a similar name while your trademark application is going through the registration process.
The Notice of Allowance is a very important milestone for a trademark application that was filed on an intent to use basis. The Notice of Allowance essentially indicates that (1) the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) approved your application after examination, (2) your application was published for opposition, and (3) a third-party did not prevent the registration of your trademark. Although the Notice of Allowance brings you one step closer to the successful registration of your trademark, it’s critical that you understand what you need to do next in order to complete the registration process.
You might see the phrase “published for opposition” when you check the status of your trademark application on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. The meaning of “published for opposition” is something that all owners of pending trademark applications should understand because it can be the most consequential part of the entire US trademark registration process.
Current and prospective clients ask me all the time, “How long to register a trademark in the US?” Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that seemingly simple question. Depending on your particular situation, it could be a matter of months. But, in some cases, it could take many years. The good news is that no matter how long it takes for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to issue the Certificate of Registration, all of your federal trademark rights date back to the filing date of your trademark application. In other words, it’s not the actual registration date that matters. In fact, the registration date is only relevant to calculate trademark registration renewal deadlines. It’s the application filing date that reserves your nationwide priority to use your trademark in connection with the advertising and sale of the products/services listed in your application.
The Section 15 Declaration of Incontestability is a document that’s filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for the purpose of making a federally registered trademark incontestable. The Section 15 Declaration may only be filed if (1) the mark is registered on the Principal Register (not the Supplemental Register), (2) the mark is still in use in commerce, and (3) the mark has been in continuous use for five consecutive years subsequent to the date of registration. Once the USPTO acknowledges the Section 15 Declaration, the trademark owner’s right to use its mark in commerce in connection with the products/services listed in the registration becomes incontestable.