Keeping your registration alive

Once you own a trademark registration, you must do a few important things to maintain that registration and keep it alive. First, you must use your trademark in commerce. Additionally, you must file certain documents at regular intervals to show that you're continuing to use your trademark. If you don't file these documents before the deadline, your registration will be canceled or will expire, or your extension of protection to the U.S. will be invalidated (if you filed via WIPO under the Madrid system). Exceptions to the requirement to use your trademark are rare.

TEAS maintenance forms

For more information, see the following:

Continue using your trademark to maintain your registration

Generally, trademark owners are only entitled to a federal registration if they're using their trademark in commerce. That's why most applicants submit specimens when they apply — to show that they're using their trademark. However, demonstrating trademark use once isn't enough. You must regularly demonstrate use throughout the life of your trademark if you want to maintain your registration and keep its benefits. 

Process overview for required maintenance documents 

Typically, when you file a required maintenance document, you'll submit a signed declaration saying that you're continuing to use your trademark with the goods and services in your registration. You'll also submit one specimen for each class of goods or services.

We'll examine your maintenance document to determine if you meet the requirements to maintain your registration. If your registration gets audited, you'll need to provide more proof of use. If you don't provide acceptable proof of use, you'll need to provide proof of use for every good and service listed in your registration in the audited classes, delete any goods and services for which you can’t prove use, and pay a fee for each class with deletions. 

Delete goods or services promptly if no longer in use 

If you stop using your trademark with one or more of the goods or services in your registration between required maintenance filings, you should promptly delete them from your registration. File a section 7 request to delete these goods or services. You won't be charged a fee for deleting goods or services in this way between maintenance filings. 

Before you file any required maintenance document, carefully reevaluate your trademark use. If you aren't using your trademark with one or more of the goods or services in your registration, you must identify those goods or services in your declaration to delete them from your registration. You won't be charged a fee for deleting goods or services in this way.

It's vital that you file accurate maintenance documents to avoid jeopardizing your registration. Only include goods or services for which you can provide evidence of your trademark use, or request an exception.

Fees and consequences 

If you submit one of the required maintenance documents listed below but then delete goods or services before your maintenance document is accepted, you'll be required to pay a fee for each class with deletions. If you're required to pay this fee but you don't pay it when you delete the goods or services, we'll send you an office action. If you don't pay the fee by the deadline for responding to the office action, your entire registration will be canceled. 

We charge this fee to ensure that you keep your registration up to date by telling us about changes in your trademark use. If you don’t, you're violating the legal requirements of owning a federal trademark registration. Members of the public rely on our official records of federally registered trademarks (called the "trademark register"). Outdated information about use in the trademark register diminishes its utility to provide notice of trademark rights to businesses and the public. 

Exceptions are rare 

In a few limited situations, you may request to be temporarily excused from the requirement to use your trademark. You must show that you've stopped using your trademark because of special circumstances beyond your control and that you don't intend to abandon the trademark. See TMEP §1604.11 for more information about excusable nonuse. 

Excusable nonuse during COVID-19

If COVID-19 has directly impacted you or your business and temporarily prevented you from using your trademark, you may request to be temporarily excused from using your trademark. See the Registration Maintenance/Renewal/Correction Forms page for more information. 

Deadlines for filing registration maintenance documents

Note: These are for registrations not based on the Madrid Protocol. See below for information about Madrid-based registrations.

Required filings

You must file these documents within these deadlines to keep your trademark registration alive:

We send courtesy email reminders when you have an upcoming deadline for a maintenance filing. However, even if you don’t receive a reminder, you must still file these documents on time. 

Deadlines that fall on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday

If your maintenance filing is due on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday, we consider it timely if we receive it on the following business day.

File early

File in the beginning of the year in which your required maintenance filing is due. Doing so should give you enough time to resolve any correctable errors without paying an additional fee if the USPTO rejects your filing.

Grace periods

There is a six-month grace period after each of the above deadlines. You can file during the grace period, but you'll need to pay an additional fee. If you don't file before the end of the grace period, your registration will be canceled or deemed expired. 

Optional filings

Declaration of Incontestability

If your mark is registered on the Principal Register and meets certain legal requirements, including at least five years continuous use in commerce, you may file an optional Declaration of Incontestability under section 15. If your mark qualifies for incontestability between the fifth and sixth years after registration, you can combine the filing with your §8 filing using the Combined Declarations of Use and Incontestability under section 8 and section 15 form. For more information, see TMEP section 1605.

Section 7 Amendment or Correction of Registration

To make a non-material correction or amendment to your registration, file a Section 7 Request for Amendment or Correction of Registration Certificate. For example, if you stop using your trademark with certain goods or services and you don't have a required maintenance document due, you must use this form to request that we delete those goods or services from your registration. You are legally required to keep your registration accurate so that it only lists goods and services on which you are currently using your trademark in commerce. If you fail to do this prior to filing a required maintenance document, you will incur additional fees. For information on the legal requirements, see TMEP section 1609.

Deadlines for registrations based on the Madrid Protocol 

If you don't know whether your registration is based on the Madrid Protocol, check the application serial number on your U.S. registration certificate. Trademark registrations based on the Madrid Protocol have application serial numbers that begin with "79."

Required filings

You must file these documents within these deadlines to keep your Madrid-based U.S. trademark registration alive:

We send courtesy email reminders when you have an upcoming deadline for a maintenance filing. However, even if you don’t receive a reminder, you must still file these documents on time. 

Deadlines that fall on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday

If your USPTO maintenance filing is due on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday, we consider it timely if we receive it on the following business day.

File early

File in the beginning of the year in which your required maintenance filing is due. Doing so should give you enough time to resolve any correctable errors without paying an additional fee if the USPTO rejects your filing.

Grace periods

There is a six-month grace period after each of the above USPTO deadlines. You can file during the grace period, but you'll have to pay an additional fee. If you don't file before the end of the grace period, your registration will be canceled. 

Optional filings 

Declaration of Incontestability

If your mark is registered on the Principal Register and meets certain legal requirements, including at least five years continuous use in commerce, you may file an optional Declaration of Incontestability under section 15. If your mark qualifies for incontestability between the fifth and sixth years after registration, you can combine the filing with your §8 filing using the Combined Declarations of Use and Incontestability under section 8 and  section 15 form. For more information, see TMEP section 1605.

Section 7 Amendment or Correction of Registration

To make a non-material correction or amendment to your registration, file a Section 7 Request for Amendment or Correction of Registration Certificate. For example, if you stop using your trademark with certain goods or services and you don't have a required maintenance document due, you must use this form to request that we delete those goods or services from your registration. You are legally required to keep your registration accurate so that it only lists goods and services on which you are currently using your trademark in commerce. For information on the legal requirements, see TMEP section 1609.

Common mistakes to avoid

Ensure all information in your post registration filings is accurate and current.

Ownership  

If the ownership information in your maintenance filing doesn't match the information in our electronic records, your filing could be refused. If ownership information has changed – whether the business was sold, changed its name, or for some other reason–you can file one of the following forms to record the change: 

Goods and services

Don't file to maintain your registration for goods or services with which your trademark is no longer in use in commerce. You must delete these goods and services from your registration when you file your section 8 or section 71 filing. 

Specimens

If the specimen you provide doesn't show proper use in commerce of your trademark, your section 8 or section 71 filing may be refused and your registration canceled. See the Specimen webpage for more information. 

What happens next and timelines

After you file, your maintenance documents will be reviewed by a post registration trademark examiner. In about one to two months, the USPTO will issue one of the following: 

  • A notice. If your section 8 or section 71 declaration and/or section 9 renewal is acceptable, or your section 15 declaration can be acknowledged, the USPTO will send a Notice of Acceptance, Notice of Renewal, and/or Notice of Acknowledgement.
  • An updated registration certificate. If your section 7 request to amend or correct the registration is acceptable, the USPTO will send an updated registration certificate that reflects the changes requested in your filing.
  • An office action. If your section 8, section 71 or section 15 declaration and/or section 9 renewal or section 7 request isn't acceptable, the USPTO will send an office action stating the reasons for refusal and any remedies available. You also will receive an office action if your section 8 or section 71 submission is selected for review under the Post-Registration Audit Program. Respond using the Post Registration Response to Office Action form. If you don't respond to an office action issued for a section 8 or section 71 declaration or a section 9 renewal application, your registration will be canceled and/or expire. If you don’t respond to an office action issued for a section 7 request or for a separately filed section 15 declaration, the filing itself will be abandoned.

Check the status of your registration after filing your documents to confirm that we've received them, and then check again a couple of months later. Use the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) to view all documents in the registration record. Enter your U.S. registration number and click on “Status.” If we've issued a notice or office action, you can view it in TSDR to see if further action on your part is required.

Timelines

View the post-registration timeline or the Madrid Protocol post-registration timeline for an overview of the process.

Look out for misleading notices from private companies

We are aware that applicants and registrants may receive unsolicited third-party mailings from private companies not associated with the USPTO around the time your maintenance filings are due.  While some of these may be from legitimate companies, many are fraudulent and should be avoided.  All official USPTO email correspondence is only from the domain "@uspto.gov."  If you do receive a suspicious communication, you can check our list of known scammers here where you will also find guidance on what to do.

Questions

Contact the Trademark Assistance Center for general questions about maintaining a U.S. trademark registration. For specific questions about a post-registration office action, contact the assigned examiner identified in the office action.

TMIN News 12: Post-registration video