Requesting an expungement or reexamination proceeding

To obtain and maintain a registration, business owners are required to use their trademark in commerce for all the goods and services in the registration. When registered trademarks aren’t used but remain on the register anyway, they clutter the trademark register, making it difficult for legitimate businesses to obtain their own registrations for the same or similar marks. 

If we find evidence of unused registrations, we may institute Director-initiated proceedings against those registrations, particularly those obtained by scammers.

If you want to challenge a registration due to nonuse in an attempt to get the registration canceled, you can request an expungement or reexamination proceeding. These processes may be less expensive and quicker than a contested cancellation proceeding before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). 

If your request succeeds, we will delete those goods or services from the registration. In some cases, we will cancel the registration.

The type of proceeding you choose depends on certain facts about the registration, such as the section of the Trademark Act it was registered under. For example, trademarks registered under the Madrid Protocol can only be challenged in an expungement proceeding. For more information about these proceedings, see our Trademark Modernization Act (TMA) page

General questionsExpungement proceedingReexamination proceeding
What's the difference between proceedings?The owner never used the trademark in commerce with some or all of the goods or services listed in the registration.

The owner didn’t use the trademark in commerce with some or all of the goods or services listed in the registration on or before the relevant date required for showing proof of use. If the owner:

  • Initially filed their application based on use in commerce and never amended it to an intent-to-use basis, the relevant date is the filing date of the initial application.
  • Initially filed or amended their application to an intent-to-use basis, the relevant date is the date we accepted the amendment or the end date of the statement-of-use period for an accepted statement of use.
What's the time limit to file a petition?You must request the proceeding between three and 10 years after the registration date.You must request the proceeding within the first five years after registration.
What's the cost?$400 per class of good or service$400 per class of good or service
What's the appropriate registration basis?Sections 1, 44, and 66 registrationsSection 1 registrations only 
What evidence is required?Documentary evidence to support claim of nonuse Documentary evidence to support claim of nonuse 

The difference between TMA and TTAB proceedings

The same registration can be the subject of a TMA petition as well as a TTAB petition for cancellation based on expungement, nonuse, abandonment, or fraud. However, there are important differences between filing a petition for expungement or reexamination and filing a petition for cancellation at the TTAB. 

General questionsTMA proceedingTTAB proceeding
What's the difference between proceedings?
  • Limited to evidence relevant to nonuse
  • Petitioner is not a party to the proceeding
  • Evidence establishing prima facie case must be filed with the petition
  • Proceedings can be brought for claims of nonuse, abandonment, expungement or fraud
  • Petitioner is a party to the proceeding 
  • Petitioner must have a reasonable basis for the complaint, but evidence doesn’t need to be filed with the petition 
What's the cost?$400 per class$600 per class, with a $200 refund in case of default
What's the timeline?From 4.5 - 12 months, depending on volumeFrom four months to up to three years for trial cases
What's the result?Canceling the goods or services at issueCanceling the goods or services at issue
Who can file?Any person, and, in most cases, the real party in interest can remain anonymousOnly people with an entitlement to a statutory cause of action