How Long Does It Take To Get Your Trademark

So, this is one of the big questions that everybody wants to know the answer to, “How long does it take to get my trademark approved?” Well, it depends on lots of factors! From the mark that you’re choosing, the class that you are working with it in, the marks that are related to it that might already be registered or being used in common law or whether or not it gets opposed during an examination phase, and even down to who the examiner is. There’s just so many things that can impact how long it takes to get a trademark. 

But we’re gonna turn here and I’m going to give you some general guidelines in the context of the E5 Trademark System. E5 again stands for ‘ for (1) Enroll, (2) Evaluate, (3) Equip, (4) Examine, and (5) Enforce.

Now, really only the first four of those phases apply to that “How long does it take?” question. So, let’s go over those now, and then let’s also talk about what will speed them up and slow them down.

First, if you’re looking to just make things happen really, really fast, you might quickly go ahead and Enroll — and by the way to Enroll, it means to watch these videos, read the handouts that come with these videos, and learn what you can about the trademark process until you feel comfortable moving forward. So, you can Enroll and maybe you’ll feel comfortable in an hour. Yeah, that’s optimistic, but some people do. 

Then, we move into the Evaluation Phase. Now, the Evaluation Phase is all about doing the right searches and evaluating the results from those searches. I covered trademark searches in another video in some depth. And so, we’ll just say that — Let’s say on the evaluation front where you asked for a full trademark search to be done or even a basic “knockout search,” you can expect it to take a day or two to get those results put together. And then you’ll want to spend some time with your attorney looking at the results and trying to decipher how all these different marks interrelate to what you’re trying to get protected. 

Then, we move on to the Equip Phase. In the Equip Phase, we’re really talking about putting the Trademark Application together. A Trademark Application is more than just typing words in to a form. You actually have to use the “right words” and you have to describe your mark accurately, both the kind of mark it is, whether it’s a logo, a slogan, or a basic word mark. You also have to describe the Goods and Services that go along with that mark and the class that it belongs in. You’ve got to identify the proper class. You also have to make sure that you provide a sample of your mark as it’s being used in Commerce with your application. Now, that’s for the most common type of application which is the “in-use application.” There is something called an “intent to use application,” that can take a little bit longer as well — I’ll save that for a future video. 

Then, we get into the next phase and that’s Examination — I should say on the Equip Phase, it can go as fast as a day; but again, you’re kind of rushing things and not thinking through the process; but it can be done in a day and incompetently. In the Examination Phase, now it’s at the Trademark Office. So, how long does that take? Well, again, I’m assuming you want to move really fast, it can go as fast as two weeks with something called “A petition to make special.” It’s a way of expediting your application. To expedite, you have to meet certain specific qualifications and you have to pay some additional fees. These fees can be expensive — I covered this in another video that you can check out by clicking on the link below to see if you qualify for expediting. But two weeks is about what it takes to get a turnaround from the Trademark Office during the Examination Phase.

But, Examination has two phases. Remember, the second is the Public Examination and that will always take at least two months because the public is given two months to oppose your mark. Well let’s say that no opposition is filed and then your mark is allowed to go to registration. That period of time takes at least 30 days. And if you add these all up, you’ll see that you can get your mark registered in about four months. And again, this is a “blazing the trail” kind of journey. Average is a little bit different. Usually, I find that clients like to spend about a week watching videos and giving feedback to get comfortable with the information that it takes to file a good competent mark. 

On the Evaluation Front, most clients want to spend about a week going over the results with me and follow up with some questions to make sure that their mark is going to be filed in the Equip Phase in the proper way. The Equip Phase takes some time because it just takes time to gather the samples, to go through some dry runs of how you want to describe your mark (both as it appears as well as the goods that you’re trying to protect). 

And then you get into the regular Examination Phase which can go between four and six months typically. And it might involve some work on office actions or rejections and responses with the Trademark Office. By the way, this can also happen in the fast days. But if you get some of those, you might have to have some back-and-forth with the examiner. 

And then you go into that Public Examination Phase. Again, always at least two months. And then it moves on to Registration which can take another month. If you add these all up you get about 8 months to 11 months. Now, let’s walk it through “slow” at the time we have left. Some people just take their time, and they want to understand the nuances of the trademark process a little bit more than others. So, the Enroll and Education Process might take a month or more. 

The Evaluation Process might also go a little bit slow if you want to take your time and move with deliberation before you choose what mark to file to protect, the classes that you want to protect it in, and how you want to describe it. 

The Equip Phase, depending on how fast you move and get certain samples back to your attorney, can take a month. So, for example, let’s say that you have a mark that you’re using on the front page of your website, but you don’t actually use the mark in conjunction with the pictures on your website of the thing that you’re selling under a particular name to try to sell it. Well, you need to move that mark around or demonstrate that it’s already being used on its packaging. Again, these are nuances that can affect your actual data first using commerce, so you want to talk to your attorney about that. 

Then, on the Examination Front, sometimes you have multiple rounds of going back and forth with an examiner. And again, some examiners are slower than others, so that process can take nine to twelve months sometimes. Then, you get into the Public Examination Phase, which we’ve discussed already, is a 60-day window for public opposition, but they can actually extend it an additional time period by just asking for an extension within the Trademark Office. If that happens, you’re looking at maybe up to four months during that Public Examination Phase. And I put a plus here because sometimes that request for an extension to oppose a mark actually results in something called an Opposition Proceeding. If an Opposition Proceeding is filed, then this timeline is disrupted and you go into a completely different process that I’ll have to cover in another “not video” but “series of videos” because Trademark Opposition is complex. Fortunately, it’s rare — very rare. So, if you add up all these months along the slow process, you get to about 17 to 20 months to get a trademark registered. 

Now, there’s this fifth “E” in the process about Enforcing. That’s an ongoing procedure, but so is Evaluation. Because once a trademark search is done and you kind of feel like you know what the other marks are that are out there, you’re going to want to continue monitoring (that’s another special kind of trademark search) uses of the mark so you can do something called, “policing your mark,” making sure competitors aren’t using it. You’ll also want to keep a front of mind awareness of other uses of the mark that start occurring while your own Trademark Application is pending. 

Again, there’s this Fast Path that you might be on, an Average Path, or a Slow Path. So, when you ask Steve — or to your attorney, “Hey, how long does it take to get a trademark?” and we say, “Well, it depends.” Now you can see it really does. And these are just some of the factors that go into it. I hope this has been helpful. Leave a comment below and click on the link for the help sheets that come along with this video.

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