The process of registering a trademark is lengthy. The overall process can take several years with an average time frame of 10-18 months. The process of doing the trademark search, and application can be completed in a few days. The approval process as your application works its way through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is what takes the most amount of time. The most important date is the date you file. If your trademark application is approved, protection will be retroactive to the day you filed.
After you file your trademark application with the USPTO, there are three major steps before your certificate of trademark will be issued.
The first step is the Examination. Once you file your application an examining attorney will review your application. Applications are taken on a first come first serve basis and it is about 4 months until an examining attorney will review your application. If the attorney decides that a mark should not be registered, he will issue an office action. The office action letter will give an explanation for denial of your trademark. The applicant has six months to respond to the office action. If the applicant fails to respond, the application will be considered abandoned. Many times office actions can be overcome. If you receive an office action, you should consult an experienced trademark attorney.
Publication in the [Official Gazette] is the next step. The Official Gazette is the weekly publication of the USPTO. Once the examining attorney is convinced your trademark has overcome all objections or is objection free, he will approve your trademark for publication in the Official Gazette. Any party who believes that they will experience harm from the approval of your mark has 30 days from the date of publication to file an opposition or a request to extend time to file an opposition. If there is an opposition filed, a proceeding is held to validate or dismiss the objection. If no opposition is filed or the opposition loses in the proceeding, that application moves on to the next step.
The last step is the Notice of Allowance or Registration. If your mark was already being used in commerce you would receive a registration certificate. The issuing of the trademark registration certificate takes place about four months after the publication of the mark.
If the mark was the result of an Intent-to-use filing, you will receive a Notice of Allowance. This also takes about four months, but does require a couple extra steps. The applicant has two choices.
-1 Submit a statement of use and start using the mark in commerce or
-2 Request a 6 month extension to allow the Statement of Use to be filed later.
Depending on the complexity of an office action and trademark proceeding, a trademark registration could take significantly longer. If 10-18 months is too long, expedited trademark registrations are possible. Check to see if you qualify for an expedited trademark registration.