People often ask why it takes so long for a trademark to be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). In order to understand the answer to this question, an individual looking to file a trademark must know what happens between the time of filing and the time of achieving registration. While the USPTO does provide some answers, they do not provide much. First things first, an individual, or even better a lawyer on behalf of the individual, files the trademark with USPTO. Sometime thereafter, usually within a month, the new application is entered into the trademark system. However, once the trademark is entered into the system, the trademark application must wait until an examiner is assigned to it. The examining attorney is the individual who reviews the trademark filing, requests additional information, and ultimately approves the trademark for registration or denies the trademark for a variety of possible reasons. So, not only does it take several months to be assigned an examining attorney, but it also may take time for that examining attorney to review the trademark and notify the applicant of next steps.
These next steps may include the requirement for the applicant to respond to an outgoing office action, provide additional information, or identify reasons as to why the trademark application should not be rejected. If an outgoing office action is issued, a response is usually due within six months. Therefore, the earlier you can respond, the more likely it is the earlier you will get a final decision. Usually there is more than one response required, but as soon as the examining attorney approves the trademark application for publication, which is likely between six and twelve months after the first filing, the rest of the process moves along at a set pace. The trademark applicant is provided a notice of publication, and within about a month, the trademark is published for opposition. The mark is then published for opposition for 30 days, and may be extended if someone requests to extend the time to oppose. If an opposition is received, this time period may be extended longer. Usually, however, within about two months after the time the trademark is published for opposition, the trademark will be registered on the principal register. All in all, the process usually takes anywhere between ten and eighteen months depending on how many outgoing office actions are necessary, how long it takes to respond to those actions, and whether or not there is an opposition or a request to extend the time to oppose to the trademark. Therefore, it is critical that you contact an attorney as soon as you can to get the trademark registration process started.