After you’ve applied for your trademark, there will be a waiting period of approximately 18 months before your name is actually registered with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (herein referred to as the USPTO). Until then, it will be listed as “Pending.” Sometimes there are hold-ups; the USPTO may not allow you to use the name you’ve chosen to apply for because there is a similar name already trademarked. In this case, you will receive an “office action”, which is a notification from the USPTO. If you do receive an office action, it might be due to the USPTO simply needing more information in order to complete your trademark application. However, it also may be because your name is blocked by another name, which is the worst case scenario, and another reason why it is incredibly important to purchase comprehensive research before you file for your name!
After your name is registered with the USPTO, between years 5-6 you will file a “Continuous Use Form.” This form conveys to the USPTO that you have been using your trademarked name, and you intend to continue to stay in business or to sell your product under that name. After a 10 year period, you will be required to renew your trademark. It is important to be aware that some maintenance is involved in keeping your trademarked name.
It is recommended that each year you commission research on your name. This is done to ensure that no one has begun using your name since doing initial research on its availability. By continuing to do annual research, you are adding a greater sense of protection for your name and business. It is up to you to remain informed on what businesses are using what marks, and how this might affect your own personal business ventures.
Once trademarked, you may take legal recourse if another business has begun using your name. A “cease and desist” letter is a way of conveying to another business that they are infringing upon your trade-name. While you do not need a trademark in order to draw up a letter such as this, having a federally registered trademark gives you a greater ability to disallow the use of your name by another. These documents should always be drawn up by an attorney, rather than an individual, as the action conveys that you are taking legal recourse against another business. Please communicate with the USPTO directly, a trademark attorney OR a trademark research company if you have more specific questions about maintaining your trademark!