How long does the trademark application process take?
While there is no absolute answer – for most applications the trademark application process takes between 8-12 months and can be broken into several stages – each with its own variables.
Step One – Trademark Clearance:
The first step is the one before you file the trademark application. Prior to filings any trademark application, you should take time to review prior registrations that might block your application from being accepted. This can be done by you or by a trademark lawyer. When working with an attorney, this involves discussing the mark and your business, and it typically takes between 1-7 days depending on the type of trademark screening you decide to have done and the attorney’s workload.
Step Two – Preparation of Application:
Assuming your trademark is cleared, an application is prepared based on the information you provide, and if working with a trademark attorney, the analysis of the lawyer. You can count on 2-3 days for this to be completed. NOTE: Of course the times working with the lawyer can be expedited when needed and compressed in most cases if there is a reason to do so.
Step Three – Examining Attorney:
Once received by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the trademark application is reviewed and categorized with regard to any images. The application then works through several technical steps until it is “assigned” to an USPTO examining attorney. This step currently takes around three months.
The examining attorney reviews the application and searches prior registration and applications for trademarks that are confusingly similar to the new application; additionally the attorney evaluates whether the mark is “merely descriptive” or is barred from registration for other reasons such as illegal products, being primarily a surname, or is ornamental and not a trademark. Additionally, the examiner reviews the descriptions of the mark and whether the trademark’s goods and services a clearly and specifically identified. If there are no problems, the examining attorney will notify you and set a date for “publication” of the trademark application. This step typically occurs fairly quickly after the assignment of the application to the examiner.
Step Five – Office Actions:
Unfortunately, many applications receive at least one Office Action for either technical or substantive reasons. When this happens, the applicant is given up to six months to respond to the questions or concerns raised by the trademark office. If the response is successful, the application is proceeds to publication.
Step Six – Publication:
Publication is the last step for most trademark applications. During this step, a mark is “published” to allow anyone who feels they have an interest in the mark to object to your registration. The publication period is 30 days, however, the pre-publication and post publication time period typically runs at least two months.
Of course there are situations where the trademark application process can take much longer, but these steps are pretty standard. On the upside, the application is considered effective as of the date of the filing of the application. Of course, by minimizing the chance of an office action, you can speed the process along.
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