US trademarks have required filings that keep your trademark valid. Missing these deadlines can result in additional fees or, worse, abandonment of your trademark rights.
Obtaining the initial federal trademark registration can take eleven months or more. If you miss a trademark renewal deadline you may have to go through this process all over again. Worse, if someone filed a similar name before you, you'll need to oppose the conflicting mark through an opposition filing, which will cost you time and money. The below deadlines and fees are the expected maintenance filings that will occur after you acquire registration. File these on time and you will avoid a lot of issues down the road.
Section 8 Declaration – Filed between 5th and 6th year of registration
Trademark Section 8 ( §8) Declarations are affidavits that verify your trademark remains in use. In the affidavit you declare that either the trademark remains in use (most common declaration) or is not in use, but you have special circumstances that show you don't intend on abandoning the trademark ("forced by outside causes" – e.g. hurricane knocks out manufacturing plant temporarily).
You will need to provide the declaration of use along with examples of that use (that match your trademark). If you have a logo, make sure the specimen matches the logo. Otherwise, you will need to amend the drawing of the mark (if a non-material alteration) or refile.
Due date: This declaration is due before the 6th year of registration, and 10th year of registration. The statute actually states:
(1) Within the 1-year period immediately preceding the expiration of 6 years following the date of registration under this chapter or the date of the publication under section 1062(c) of this title.
In layman's terms the due date is within the last year before your six-year anniversary and before your ten-year anniversary, and each ten year anniversary thereafter. For example, if your registration date is August 13, 2015, you need to file a section 8 declaration between August 13, 2020 and August 12, 2021, and then again between August 13, 2024 and August 13, 2025, and so on, indefinitely on ten year anniversaries.
Fee: $100 per class.
Section 15 Incontestability – Filed between 5th and 6th year of registration (Optional)
Section 15 incontestability declaration provides you "incontestable status." This does not mean that your mark cannot be challenged, but it does make it more difficult to do so.
Incontestable status means that your registration cannot be challenged based on:
How do I get it?
Due date: Same as above (sort of) – 5 years after registration and 5 years of continuous use. Often filed with the section 8 declaration.
Fee: $200 per class.
Section 9 Renewal – Filed between 9th and 10th year of registration
The renewal is your declaration that you intend on using the trademark for the next ten years and would like to extend your registration. This filing also requires a specimen submitted (you will have to file with a section 8 declaration with a section 9 renewal).
Due date: Renewals are due every ten years. For example, if your registration date is August 13, 2015, you need to file a section 9 declaration between August 13, 2024 and August 13, 2025, then again between August 13, 2034 and August, 13, 2035, and so on, indefinitely (or until the mark is no longer in use).
Fee: $300 per class.