A visual symbol like a word, phrase, signature, name, device, logo, symbol, numerals, packaging of goods/services, a combination of colors, motion marks, holograms, etc., used by the owner of the trademark for goods or services or other items of commerce in order to distinguish it from other similar goods or services originating from different businesses. Trademark registration is also used to distinguish the owners’ products or services from those of its competitors. In simple words, a trademark is a brand or logo which represents a particular business.
The trademark application and registration process aren’t quick and easy. The time schedule to complete the entire process of trademark registration varies from country to country. It is extremely difficult to predict how long it will take for a trademark application to mature into a registration because so many factors affect the process, directly or indirectly.
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Generally, a trademark can either be registered within 6 months or it can take up to 4 years or more to receive a certificate of the registered certificate.
Timeline for Registering A Trademark
The process of trademark registration involves the proceedings of the trademark application through various stages of the process.
Following are the elements of the timeline for registering a trademark:
1. Examination Process of Trademark Registration
After the trademark filing approximately 4 – 8 months it takes to a trademark lawyer to review the trademark application and determine whether the mark may be already registered. Should the trademark lawyer decide that a mark should not be registered, he will issue a letter explaining the reasons for the refusal. The applicant must respond to the objection within the mentioned time duration, otherwise, the trademark application is deemed abandoned. Generally, the time period for responding to the opposition varies within 4-6 months.
The typical grounds for the trademark lawyer to refuse a trademark registration are a possibility of the confusion between the applicant’s mark and an already registered mark or the mark may just be descriptive in relation to the applicant’s goods/services.
The trademark application is also eligible for refusal if the mark is primarily geographically descriptive, primarily geographically misdescriptive, a generic term, primarily just a surname or a scandalous or immortal trademark.
2. Publication for Opposition
The second facet of registering a trademark is the publication of the trademark in the journal for the opposition. If the trademark attorney does not raise any objection in registering a trademark or if the applicant manages to overcome all the objections, then the government trademark attorney will approve the mark for publication in the Official Gazette where all the trademarks are published before the registration is approved. The Intellectual Property Registration (IPR) Office will send a Notice of Publication to the applicant mentioning the date of publication.
Any petitioner who believes it may be damaged by the registration of the applied mark has a 30 – 45 days from the date of publication to file a Notice of Opposition or a Request to Extend Time to Oppose. It’s a very rare event that an opposition arises, approximately, only 4% of all the marks are opposed. If the mark is opposed during the process of trademark registration then a proceeding similar to a court trial is held to determine whether the opposition is based on valid grounds, such as the applicant’s mark being confusingly similar to the opposer’s mark. If no opposition is filed or the filed opposition turns out to be unsuccessful then the trademark application matures to a registered mark or receives a Notice of Allowance.
3. Registration or Notice of Allowance
The third facet of the process of trademark registration is the issue of a Registration or Notice of Allowance. If the trademark application was filled for a mark already being used in commerce then the IPR office would register the mark and issue a registration certificate.
If the trademark filing was based on the intent-to-use basis, then a Notice of Allowance will be issued. After the applicant has received he has two options:
(1) use the mark in commerce and submit a Statement of use, or
(2) request for an extension of time to file a Statement of use.
Once after the Statement of use is filed and approved the IPR Office will issue a registration certificate ending the process of trademark registration successfully.
Every business owner must actively consider protecting their business name, identity, brand, logo, image, etc. If adopted properly and promoted, a trademark can become the most beneficial asset of a business.