Obtaining a trademark registration is a significant milestone for any business or individual, providing legal protection and recognition for one’s brand.

However, it’s important to understand that the process doesn’t end with the initial registration. To maintain the exclusivity and benefits associated with a trademark registration, the trademark holder must fulfill ongoing responsibilities, which include paying trademark registration maintenance fees.

Trademark registration maintenance fees, also known as renewal fees or maintenance renewals, are periodic payments required to keep your registered trademark in force. Maintenance fees for U.S. trademark registrations are due to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) 5-years after registration, 10-years after registration, and every 10 years thereafter. If paid on time, the USPTO charges $525 per class of goods and services to renew a trademark registration. State-level or international trademark registrations will have similar maintenance fee requirements, but timing and cost will vary.

The USPTO also requires proof of ongoing and active use of the trademark to maintain registration, such as a photograph of the registered trademark in use with the registered goods or services.

Failure to pay these fees could result in the cancellation or expiration of the trademark registration, leaving it vulnerable to potential infringement and paving the way for others to register their own similar marks. Once a mark is cancelled for non-payment of maintenance fees, it is permanently lost. A trademark owner will have to re-apply for a new trademark registration and go through the examination process again.

Accordingly, tracking these maintenance fee deadlines is crucial. Trademark holders should set up reminders to ensure no due dates are missed. The USPTO may send a courtesy reminder for maintenance fee payments to the holder’s last known address or email address, but the USPTO’s failure to send, or the trademark holder’s failure to receive, any reminder is no excuse for non-payment. Trademark attorneys often track maintenance fee deadlines independently, without relying on correspondence from the USPTO, to ensure that trademark holders are aware of any upcoming deadlines in their portfolio.

Contact the Intellectual Property group at Metz Lewis to learn more.

This post was written by Matthew Borges

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