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Maintaining Trademark Registration Rights

Trademark registration lasts for the life of the trademark owner (and depending on state law may be inherited by the owner’s spouse).  The registration will remain valid as long as the necessary maintenance documents are filed to show that the mark is still being used.  The UPSTO requires filing a “Declaration of Use” in the fifth or sixth year following registration and a “Declaration of Use and Application for Renewal Under Sections 8 and 9” in the ninth or tenth year and every ten years after.

However, filing maintenance forms are not the only way to ensure continual protection for a registered trademark.  A trademark owner must not “abandon” their mark and they must be vigilant in protecting and using their marks to prevent losing their rights.  Abandonment is when use of the mark is discontinued and the mark owner does not intend to resume using the mark in the future.  If the mark owner has not used the trademark for three consecutive years, the mark will be presumed abandoned.

If a mark owner does not maintain control over the quality of goods associated with the mark, then the mark owner can lose protection and registration (similar to abandonment).  This can be achieved by assigning the trademark to another without maintaining supervision and quality control over the goods associated with the mark.

Genericide may occur when the mark has become apart of common vernacular through popularity that protection of the trademark has become burdensome on society; for example, Thermos for vacuum sealed containers or aspirin and cellophane.

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