U.S. trademark registrations automatically lapse if they are not maintained or renewed at the appropriate times. The registrant must, at a minimum, submit an affidavit of use (or excusable non-use) of the mark in U.S. Commerce with acceptable evidence of such use for at least one item in each class of goods and services:
- between the fifth and sixth anniversary of the registration date,
- between the ninth and tenth anniversary of the registration date, and
- every 10 years thereafter to keep the registration active.
The registrant may belatedly file the relevant documents and evidence at additional cost during a 6-month grace period following each deadline. Except in very rare circumstances, it is not possible to maintain or renew a registration after the belated deadline.
The appropriate step in maintaining or renewing the registration depends on whether the registrant (or its licensee(s)):
- has used the mark on all of the goods/services in the registration;
- has used the mark on only some of the goods/services in the registration;
- has not used or has ceased use of the mark in relation to any of the goods/services in the registration and cannot point to special circumstances that prevented it from doing so; or
- has not used or has ceased use of the mark in relation to any of the goods/services in the registration and can point to special circumstances that prevented it from doing so.
The sections below address each of these circumstances separately.
For information on obtaining a new U.S. trademark registration, see our article summarizing the U.S. trademark application process. For information on audits of U.S. trademark registrations by the USPTO, see our article entitled “So, your U.S. Trademark Registration is Being Audited”.