How long is a registered trademark valid for?
When you get your trademark registered, how long is it valid for? The short answer is it depends on the country in which you have it registered, for most of them, it’s a period of 10 years. In most countries, you do not have to prove that you’ve used your trademark for it to remain valid but in some countries, for example, in the USA you do have to prove use, and you have to prove use on the goods and services mentioned in your trademark.
If you come from a country like Australia or New Zealand where your trademark remains valid for 10 years, what happens after that first period of validity? Towards the end of the 10-year period, you are able to then renew the trademark and you renew it for another 10 years. In most countries the more classes you have, the more fees you pay. If you only want to renew some of the classes you can do that, but as always there is a catch. If you haven’t used your trademark for the past period of three years in Australia or New Zealand, it can get removed.
Now most countries have a non-use period and the non-use period differs from country to country. In New Zealand and Australia, it’s three years while for some countries it’s five years. What that means is if you ever go longer then your country’s non-use period and you’re not using your trademark, then it is vulnerable to removal. So a third party such as a competitor, can apply to get your trademark removed from the trademarks register. So, it’s really important that you do make use of your trademark and it has to be trademark use. To prove that you’ve used it as a trademark you would need things like invoices with the brand name on it, copies of your letterhead if that’s got the brand name on it, copies of advertising, copies of social media posts, anything that’s got the brand on it.
If you’ve got the word registered, you need to show you use the word by itself. There’s case law that says if you’ve got a word registered and you can only show you’ve used the word and a logo together, you’re in trouble. But most times these days that doesn’t matter because you will have your trademark, your brand as your URL, so that counts as some use. Make sure that you keep records of using your trademark, you don’t have to keep everything, but records that are dated are very useful as well as other records which you should also keep. So generally trademarks are valid for 10 years, but if you don’t use it for a non-use period, it could be removed and if you’re in a country like the US and you can’t prove you’ve used it during a certain period then it might be invalidated as well. My name is Cathryn Warburton, and I am the Legal Lioness.