In this article, we’ll discuss:
- How to prevent lawsuits by taking proactive measures to make your business’ identity legally secure.
- Why investing in a trademark attorney is a decision that can protect you and your business for years to come.
- The Top Five questions that prospective trademark holders have about applications, renewal, and more.
What Is Trademark Clearance & Why Do You Need It?
Performing a thorough clearance search is a critical step in the application process for any prospective trademark owner. These searches aim to ensure that no trademarks similar to yours are owned or registered by another party.
Why is this so important? Because if your mark can be confused with another trademark by consumers, you’re leaving your enterprise at risk.
Failure to perform an adequate clearance search can leave you vulnerable to litigation that can last years, cost thousands of dollars, and cause massive roadblocks to the growth of your enterprise.
You can choose to do a clearance search on your own by using the USTPO database and browsing search engines – but it’s not recommended. These tools rarely provide the insight needed to make a real determination of clearance.
Additionally, when your trademark bears similarities to other registered marks, an attorney will have the expertise needed to make a determination regarding whether the mark in question might bear legal issues in the long run.
What Determines Whether A Trademark “Passes Clearance”?
There are about a dozen unique factors that go into determining whether or not a trademark is likely to confuse consumers. And it’s critical to have a clear understanding of these numerous factors and trademark law to perform a clearance search that will give you the information you need to move forward with confidence.
Fortunately, you don’t have to become an expert on these matters overnight. At Wolfe Legal Services, P.L.C., our trademark searches are entirely comprehensive and will be conducted by a skilled intellectual property law attorney. Typically, these searches are completed over the course of approximately five business days and will provide you with a solid foundation and understanding of whether or not your mark is at risk.
What Is The Registration Process Like After A Clearance Search Has Been Completed?
These days, the majority of trademark registrations are completed online, via the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). The TEAS process is complicated and requires a remarkable amount of fluency in the parlance of trademark law.
This is just one of the reasons that working with an experienced attorney saves you time and money along the way. By working with an expert, you can take a step back while a seasoned professional processes your application. What’s more, you can save an even greater amount of time and money by having your application processed correctly the first time.
The Timeline of Trademark Registration Applications
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to say how long any given trademark application may take as the length of any application is affected by many factors, such as:
- How busy the USPTO office is at any given time,
- The class of goods and services that your trademark applies to,
- And more…
You may want to keep in mind: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it typically took around six months for an examining attorney at the USPTO to be assigned to a case. However, recent circumstances have caused this assignment process to take considerably longer – even up to a year.
Once the application has an examiner assigned to the case, it can take anywhere from two months to a year to receive a final determination.
Wondering When To Register Your Trademark?
You can apply for trademark registration before you use it by filing an “Intent To Use” application. However, you cannot reach the “Principal Register” (the goal of any trademark application) until the mark is used in commerce. Then, once you have used the mark in commerce, you can file an “In Use” trademark application.
If you’re considering filing an Intent To Use application: You should know that your trademark may be vulnerable to registration or enforcement problems in the event that a junior applicant with a similar or confusing mark has been active in the marketplace.
Answers To The Top 5 Most Common Trademark-Related Questions:
How Long Does A Trademark Last?
- Your trademark registration may be able to last in perpetuity, as long as it is consistently renewed.
Do I Need To Reapply Or Just Extend The Current Trademark?
- You can extend your current trademark registration through a renewal. Trademark renewal usually occurs between the fifth and sixth year after your initial registration, and between the ninth and tenth year after registration.
Will I Be Reminded When My Trademark Needs To Be Renewed?
- The USPTO is not obligated to remind you of when your trademark is up for renewal. Luckily, you have alternative options.
- Should you choose Wolfe Legal Services, P.L.C. as your attorney of record, we will remind you about any important dates related to the renewal and maintenance of your trademark registration.
What Happens If I Fail To Extend My Trademark Registration?
- If you fail to renew your trademark registration with the USPTO on time, it may be canceled. At which point, you would need to go through the entire application process from scratch
What Does Hiring An Attorney Do When It Comes To Trademark Registration?
- Working with an attorney not only saves you from having to learn all the nuances and complications of trademark registration – it gives you the confidence of having an expert on your team through each step of the process.
Wolfe Legal Services, P.L.C. offers free consultations to prospective clients because we believe in providing thoughtful, accessible legal services to all entrepreneurs. And more often than not, an attorney from our firm can identify whether or not the strength of a mark will provide registration eligibility before you ever have to pay for legal services or application fees with the USPTO.
We encourage everyone to seek legal counsel for the protection of their intellectual property and business interests. So please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a complimentary consultation and discover what our trademark counseling services can do for you.
For more information on The Need For Trademark Clearance, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (615) 784-9372 today.