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Why Are Trademark Registrations Taking So Long?

One of the most important things that a business can do is trademark their logo or slogan so that consumers know that the mark is attributed to the company.  Think about it, your business has grown, and people are starting to recognize that your company is one that they can trust and continue to come to you for goods, services, etc.  So, you want to protect your intellectual property so that others don’t try to use it and then cause confusion in the marketplace.

While the trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is not entirely too complicated, it can be easy for those who apply to wonder:  Why are trademark applications taking so long to process?

Currently, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has a severe backlog in applications that are being reviewed and vetted before anything can either be rejected or registered.  The Office reports that they are currently working on applications filed in June - July 2023.  So that makes it 8-9 months just to have an examiner assigned and for them to start reviewing the application.  And, if there is an issue with the application, they may send an office action that you must respond to, which takes additional time.

The Office reports that just in the first quarter of 2024, that over 180,000 applications have been filed.  That is on top of what's already in the queue. Thus, it’s easy to see why it’s taking so long.

So, what can you do as you wait?  Your business should start placing TM next to your phrase, slogan, or mark to start asserting that you are claiming this as your source identifier.  It also signals that the mark is being, or will be considered, by the Office for official registration (before you can place the ® next to your mark). 

Also, please remember that trademarks can also be limited to a geographical scope.  If you are not using your mark across state lines, then there’s an argument that your mark isn’t being used in commerce across state borders.  Thus, it’s worth considering applying for a state level trademark as well. That waiting period will likely take substantially less time and, after it's registered at the state level, you should be set.

Whether your mark is eventually registered with the state or federal government, please remember that you have to continue to “use” your mark.  Also, each level of government may require certain periodic filings to prove that the mark is still in use.  So, save your invoices that have your mark on them, or other places where your mark is used and displayed as a source identifier.  Save these dates of it being used (and continually used).  That way, when it’s time to renew your mark, you can demonstrate that the mark is still in use.  Also, if there is ever a challenge to your mark, you can also demonstrate the mark is currently in use and it is the source identifier in the marketplace.

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