In 2021, the trademark process timeline can take between twelve to eighteen months from trademark filing to registration. Fortunately, if you start early, you can stay ahead of the curve as applications filed during the Pandemic wind down. Below, I have provided a bird’ eye view of the timeline, so let’s see the big picture.
A. Trademark Process Timeline
As of writing in 2021, the minimum process time is now twelve months, and the maximum time is eighteen months.
- From Filing to Examining Attorney: 4-6 months
- Examining Attorney Review Period (and/or Office Action Response, if applicable): 4-6 months
- From the Examining Attorney to the Official Gazette: 1-3 months
- From the Official Gazette to Registration Certificate: 1-3 months
Therefore, it takes between twelve to eighteen months to register a trademark.
1. From Filing to Trademark Examining Attorney: Four to Six Months
Once you file your TEAS Plus or TEAS Standard application or have an attorney file it for you, you can make some basic amendments to your application. Thankfully, a trademark application is not very expensive, and the vast majority of these amendments are free of charge.
However, you should not make what is called “material alterations.” The USPTO will refuse material alterations to your drawing, and the test will depend upon your assigned Examining Attorney. In other words, other than a few minor changes, all you can do at this stage is to sit back and relax.
2. Trademark Review Period: Four to Six Months (and/or Office Action)
The USPTO will assign at random an Examining Attorney to review your application. The attorney in question will review your application for statutory issues like an appropriate disclaimer, name consent, translation, likelihood of confusion, and more. They can do one of two things: (1) they can issue an Office Action if they spot a mistake, and you will have up to six months to respond; or, (2) if your application meets the federal statutory requirements, it will be published for opposition. Thankfully, you can oppose an Office Action.
Service: Office Action Response
3. From the Examining Attorney to the Official Gazette: One to Three Months
Assuming your application is immaculate, it will be published for opposition in the Official Gazette. It takes one to three months to go from the Examining Attorney to publication in the Official Gazette. It will only appear in the Official Gazette if it meets the requirements for Principal Register.
Publication in the Official Gazette does two things: (1) it puts the world on notice that your trademark will publish barring any challenge; and (2) provides any challengers an opportunity to come forward and attack your trademark. Some clients express anxiety about this stage, but my advice is always the same: Ask an experienced attorney to search for your trademark.
4. From the Official Gazette to Registration Certificate: One to Three Months
Once the mark is published in the Official Gazette, it normally takes between one and three months to get to the Registration Certificate. It takes this long because the USPTO is a large government entity. This is the final phase of the trademark process timeline.
Once a mark has spent thirty days unopposed in the Official Gazette, it will receive a Registration Certificate. The trademark is successfully registered and you can use the ® symbol next to your mark.
But the good news does not end here.
B. Goods News: Trademark Protection Starting from the Date of Filing
While twelve to eighteen months is a long to get registration, there is some good news. Once your trademark is registered, protection is retroactive. This means that if successfully registered, trademark protection begins from the date of filing. As such, it is critical in a situation where a dispute arises and can help you establish your mark’s priority. Accordingly, there is a benefit to filing early.
C. Why Does It Take So Long to Register a Trademark Name?
In addition, during the Pandemic as stores locked down, and businesses sought to cut staff, people looked to the Internet to find an outlet for additional income. This lead to a boom in online e-commerce, and, as a consequence, to new brands. As a result, trademark filings reached all-time highs in 2020.
Before COVID-19 the answer was around nine to twelve months, averaging around the ten-month mark. However, due to the backlog caused by the Pandemic, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is dealing with a very heavy backlog. This is only in part due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
In conclusion, it takes twelve to eighteen months to register a trademark. COVID-19 sent off a wave of trademark filings. However, the good news is that if your mark registers, your trademark protection begins from the date of filing, and not the date of registration.
You can get ahead of the curve, and start by filing now with Syed Law.
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