In 2023, the trademark process timeline to registration can take between twelve to eighteen months at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). The good news is that trademark registration is retroactive to the filing date. As a result, if you start early, your protection will reach back in time to the date you filed your application. Syed Law can help you can stay ahead of the curve as applications filed during the COVID-19 Pandemic wind down. Below, I have provided a bird’s eye view of the timeline, so you can see the full picture.
1. Trademark Process Timeline
As of writing, for 2023, the minimum process time is now twelve months, and the maximum time is eighteen months.
- From filing to USPTO Examining Attorney: 9-10 months
- Examining Attorney review period (and/or Office Action Response, if applicable): 3-6 months
- From the Examining Attorney to Publication on the Official Gazette: 1-3 months
- From the Official Gazette to Registration Certificate: 1-3 months
Therefore, it takes a total of twelve to eighteen months to register a trademark at the USPTO
A. From Filing to Trademark Examining Attorney: Nine to Ten 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 “material alterations.” Material alternations are significant changes to your trademark. 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.
- Related: TEAS Plus vs. TEAS Standard: Pick the Right Trademark Application
- Related: Trademark Symbols and What They Mean
B. Trademark Review Period: Three to Six Months
The USPTO will assign an Examining Attorney to your application. That Examining Attorney will review your application for statutory and procedural 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 requirements, it will be “published for opposition.”
- Service: Office Action Response
C. From the Examining Attorney to the Official Gazette: One to Three Months
Once the review process is complete, you will receive a “Notification of Notice of Publication.” This is good news; it means you are well on your way to registration. Assuming your application is immaculate, it will be published for opposition in the Official Gazette. Note that this “Gazette” does not mean trademark registration. That is discussed in the next section.
It takes one to three months to go from the Examining Attorney to publication. It will only appear in the Official Gazette if it meets the requirements for Principal Register.
Publication does two things:
- (1) it puts the world on notice that your trademark will publish barring any challenges, and
- (2) provides any challengers an opportunity to come forward and attack your trademark.
Some may express anxiety about reaching this stage. Could they face opposition? However, my advice is always the same: If an experienced attorney searched for your trademark, there is little cause for worry.
D. 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.
2. Good News: Trademark Protection Starts from the Filing Date
While twelve to eighteen months is a long to get registration, there is some good news. Once your trademark is registered, protection is “retroactive.” Retroactive protection means that trademark protection begins from the date of filing, not registration. As such, it is critical in a situation where a dispute arises and can help you establish your mark’s priority. Accordingly, you may bring suit against infringement that occurred while your trademark was pending. As you can see, there is a benefit to filing early.
3. Why Does It Take So Long to Register a Trademark Name?
In short, during the COVID-19 Pandemic as stores locked down, and businesses sought to cut staff, people looked to the Internet to find an outlet for additional income. This led to a boom in online e-commerce. As a consequence, the “passion economy” bloomed and new brands sprung to life. As a result, trademark filings reached all-time highs.
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 USPTO is taking longer. This is only in part due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Other reasons include Amazon Brand Registry’s requirement for trademark filing as well as record foreign filers.
In conclusion, while the trademark process timeline 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.