How Often Must US Trademark Registrations be Renewed?
The duration of a US trademark can be perpetual as long as you continue to use it in commerce and continue to renew it every ten years. Yes, that’s right, unlike patents or copyrights which have lives of limited duration, a trademark can last forever (the life of a patent is typically 20 years from the date of application and the life of a copyright is typically 75 years plus the life of the author(s)). Now, it’s worth emphasizing the importance of your continued use of your trademark in interstate commerce. Keep in mind, use is a prerequisite to trademark rights. Whether those rights are federally registered trademark rights or common law trademark rights, without your continued use of your trademark in connection with products or services, both will disappear into a big cloud of nothing. Having said that, in terms of your obligation to continue to renew your federal registration, there is a meaningful difference in outcomes between your federally registered trademark rights and your common law trademark rights. The obligation for the ongoing renewal (and ongoing fees that go hand-in-hand with your ongoing renewal) only applies to your registered trademark rights. In other words, if you fail to renew your trademark registration by the ten-year renewal date, you can lose your trademark registration. But, all is not lost because as long as you are still using your trademark in interstate commerce, you can maintain your common law trademark rights in perpetuity. No, common law rights do not give you all the same protections as having a federal registration, but you can still enforce your common law trademark rights against infringers of your trademark and get them to stop infringing and pay damages for the harm they caused you with their infringement.