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A Trademark Renewal Guide for the Confused!

Updated on January 24, 2017
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Is it almost time to renew your registered trademark, but you're unsure of what paperwork to fill out?

This handy guide describes the renewal process from start to finish, making it easy to get the task done on your own...without the help of a lawyer.

Foreword

I decided to create this mini-guide after going through my first trademark renewal. I found it to be painfully confusing. I wound up doing some research, contacting the US Patent & Trademark Office, and compiling all of my findings into this little guide! Hopefully this helps you understand the process of renewing a registered trademark.

Since I like doing everything myself (and avoiding the $400-$900 or that so a lawyer charges to perform the trademark renewal process for you), this guide explains everything you need to know in an easy to read format.

Initial Renewal (Between Years 5 and 6)

Finding Your Trademark Registration Date

Search for your trademark on the US Government's own USPTO website (look on the top of the left column and click "Trademark Search") and find it on the list of results. When you click it, you'll be taken to your trademark's data sheet, which also has a black and white image of the logo (if your TM included one). Look for the line that says "Registration Date".

Calculate When It's Time To Renew

The USPTO will not remind you when it's time to renew - there is no automatic email reminder, no letter and no phone call! Therefore, it's up to you to save the date and be responsible.

Count 5 years ahead of your Registration Date, and that will be the official day where you can send out your renewal form. It can be sent anywhere between that date and the proceeding year (in other words, between the 5th and 6th year after the Registration Date). So, if my trademark had a Registration Date of January 15, 2003 -- I could have renewed it anywhere between January 15, 2008 and January 15, 2009.

Filling Out The Section 8

Before you start, make sure you have your registered trademark's serial number ready (it looks something like 12/345678). The document you'll have to fill out to renew your trademark is the Section 8, "Declaration of use of mark in commerce." It is an online form, as you can see, and you will have to provide an image file of your trademark actually in use (submit an internet banner ad with your trademark on it, a website screenshot or anything similar that has been used in the past five years). You'll also have to pay the $100 fee before submitting your Section 8.

The Grace Period - Your Last Chance!

If you miss the trademark renewal period between years 5 and 6, you'll get a grace period of 6 additional months after year 6 to do it. However, you'll be charged a penalty of $100. If you miss the grace period, your registered trademark will be listed as "dead" on the USPTO database and will have to be re-registered all over again. So, if you're submitting the form during the grace period, the final fee will be $200 ($100 for the form, and $100 more for the grace period late fee).

Subsequent Renewal (Year 10 and Every 10 Years Afterwards)

The Year 10 Fee

You'll have to pay a fee on year 10, as well as every 10th year onward for the rest of your trademark's life! (Nobody said registered trademarks were cheap!) This time around, it's a lot more expensive.

You'll have to fill out a combined Section 8 & 9 Declaration form. Here, you'll have to fill out your Section 8 all over again, as well as the Section 9. The fee this time around is $100 for the Section 8 and $400 for the Section 9, totaling $500. You'll be paying this every ten years.

Section 8 & 9 Form: Grace Period

There is also an identical grace period for the combined Section 8 & 9 form. It falls within the six month period after the 10th year, and the penalty will cost $200 (that's $100 for each form).

As you may have guessed, if you miss the grace period - your registered trademark will become un-registered. In conclusion, if you're filing the Section 8 & 9 form within the grace period, the final fee will be $700 ($500 for the forms, $200 for the penalty).

Trademark Renewal Process Summary

Here are the main points of everything we've reviewed:

  • Between the first 5 and 6 years of initial trademark registration, you have to fill out a Section 8 form, which costs $100. If you don't get this done after year 6, you have a 6-month grace period and penalty of an additional $100.
  • On year 10, and every 10 years afterward, you'll have to fill out a combined Section 8 & 9 form. It costs $500. If you miss the date, you get a 6-month grace period after the end of year 10, with an additional penalty fee of $200.
  • If this stuff is still unclear, you can always contact the USPTO directly at 571-272-9250, or by e-mail at TrademarkAssistanceCenter@uspto.gov (it takes them about a week to get back to you via e-mail).
  • Between the first 5 and 6 years of initial trademark registration, you have to fill out a Section 8 form, which costs $100. If you don't get this done after year 6, you have a 6-month grace period and penalty of an additional $100.
  • On year 10, and every 10 years afterward, you'll have to fill out a combined Section 8 & 9 form. It costs $500. If you miss the date, you get a 6-month grace period after the end of year 10, with an additional penalty fee of $200.
  • If this stuff is still unclear, you can always contact the USPTO directly at 571-272-9250, or by e-mail at TrademarkAssistanceCenter@uspto.gov (it takes them about a week to get back to you via e-mail).

Beware of Scammy Solicitations!

When your trademark is about to expire, you'll probably get solicitations in the mail from companies that renew trademarks for you. Many of these are scams or simply charge inflated prices to fill out a simple form that you can do yourself.

One such service is the "Center for US Trademark Renewals," which charges an exorbitant $300+ to fill simple paperwork for you (on top of the USPTO fees, too!). They model their letter to look like an official US Government fashioned document, even though they aren't a government organization ... and they even express that on the bottom of the envelope.

The only good thing about it is that this junk mail serves as a "reminder" that your trademark is about to expire. Don't bother with these services, though!

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