How Long Does It Take to Get a Trademark on Average?

There are several reasons for trademarking your business name and logo, but how long does it take to get a trademark? This is what you can expect.

In 2020, there were an estimated 2.6 million trademarks in the United States. People file these for various reasons, such as to protect a logo, name, or symbol for their brand. People can even trademark groups of colors in some situations.

Many people assume you file an application for a trademark and get approved a few days later. The actual process is a bit more complicated.

So, how long does it take to get a trademark? Let’s explore the key factors that influence the length of the trademark process.

Before You Apply

Choose a unique design, name, or phrase that reflects your business. This helps people recognize your company and ensures it stands out from competitors.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recommends that you choose to trademark from one of three categories:

  • Fanciful trademarks
  • Arbitrary trademarks
  • Suggestive trademarks

Fanciful trademarks are words that aren’t in the dictionary. “Pepsi” is a good example of a fanciful trademark because that word is only associated with the soft drink company.

Arbitrary trademarks have no relation to the product they’re associated with. One of the most notable is “Apple” since it has nothing to do with the devices it manufactures.

Suggestive trademarks imply the services or products you offer. The name “Microsoft” suggests the company sells software for small computers.

It’s best to avoid generic terms. You wouldn’t call a fitness center “Gym,” for example.

You should then check to see if the trademark is already used. Keep an eye out for names that sound similar to yours when spoken. You should avoid identical names, designs, and phrases.

Plural words and those with an apostrophe could also cause confusion. You can use the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to browse through a list of existing trademarks and applications.

If you’re set on a particular name or design and it’s taken, you might have to rework your idea. In some cases, you could purchase the trademark from the current owner. However, there’s no guarantee they’re willing to sell and they might not be negotiable.

Do your best to come up with something unique that applies only to your product or service. This can sometimes take months, but it’s a necessary responsibility.

The more thought you put into your idea, the easier it will be to apply for a trademark. You can also avoid difficulties you may have otherwise encountered.

Understanding Different Types of Rights

There are three trademark-related rights. These include common law rights, state registration rights, and federal registration rights.

It’s crucial to understand these so you can avoid infringement. Let’s explore them in detail.

Common Law Rights

These apply to the first company to use the trademark. However, they aren’t federal and can’t be enforced nationwide.

So, a restaurant in a small town can only enforce its rights in that town. Common law trademarks are often difficult to enforce.

You have to prove that a large number of consumers recognize your trademark as part of your brand. This means you may have difficulty protecting your rights if your brand isn’t popular in the local area.

State Registration Rights

Each state has its own trademark database. When you register, trademark protection only applies in that specific state.

The application process can differ between states, as well. Check your state regulations so you can take the appropriate steps.

Federal Registration Rights

These are the most secure. A federally registered trademark has the highest level of protection. This makes it the most effective at preventing infringement.

Federal registration also supersedes state registration. If there’s a conflict between two trademark owners and only one of them has federal registration rights, they have the upper hand.

You don’t always need federal registration to sell products or services. However, you should consider how far you plan to take your business.

If you intend to stay local, state registration is the furthest you should go. If you eventually want to open multiple locations across the country, plan ahead and consider federal registration.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Trademark?

According to the USPTO, it takes approximately 12 to 18 months to register a trademark. This depends on current processing times and how many applications the organization needs to review.

The USPTO also declares there’s no guarantee that your application will be successful. In fact, it could be refused for various legal reasons. One of the most common scenarios involves a trademark that is misdescriptive.

Refusal can also occur if approval of the trademark would cause confusion with existing trademarks. Plan for the worst-case scenario when applying.

If you’re on a tight timeline, you shouldn’t assume that you’ll get your trademark approved in 12 months. Instead, anticipate it taking longer than 18 months.

Taking Action

Coming up with the right trademark it’s difficult enough on its own. The filing process can be inconvenient and complicated.

Some people put in work for weeks or months only to have their application denied. Hiring an attorney who offers trademark services can ensure you start on the right track.

They have the knowledge required to help you overcome common pitfalls. When looking for a lawyer, explore their past reputation.

See what other clients have had to say about their results. Look for reviews that mention professionalism, timeliness, and communication.

Ensure they specialize in this area of law. Some firms offer help with trademark registration but don’t have extensive experience.

Ask about their pricing structure, as well. Some lawyers charge by the hour, while others charge a flat fee. This helps you avoid financial surprises.

Know What to Expect Before You File

Before filing for a trademark, ensure you have the appropriate documents. You should also understand the length of the process.

Keep the above answer in mind to the question “How long does it take to get a trademark?” This will help you mentally prepare for the nuances of filing.

Ready to move forward? Our team at Berkeley Law & Technology Group specializes in intellectual property law.

We’re committed to providing tailored legal counsel to each of our clients and exceeding their expectations. Get in touch with us today to see what we can do.

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