If your own trademark has fallen into ‘dead’ or ‘abandoned’ status, you may be able to file a petition to revive it. In order to file the petition, you must show that the abandonment was unintentional, and you must submit the petition within 60 days of the Notice of Abandonment (learn how to respond to a Notice of Abandonment in detail). If filing the petition is not possible, you will need to register with the USPTO again. When looking to revive the trademark of another business, be sure that they are no longer using the mark in commerce before submitting an application to the USPTO.
What Causes a Trademark to Die?
A federally-registered trademark provides valuable protections that will never expire, as long as the mark is used consistently and the trademark owner meets renewal deadlines. However, if these conditions aren’t met, the USPTO could change the status of the trademark from ‘active’ to ‘dead.’ How does this happen? There are three ways that a trademark could wind up dead. The first occurs when a trademark application does not mature to a registration, whether it’s because it was too similar to an existing mark or the applicant simply abandoned the process. Any application, even if it is never federally registered, will remain in the USPTO database forever.
Another reason for a trademark to become dead is that the owner failed to renew the mark. The USPTO requires that a registered trademark be renewed by certain dates. For new trademarks, owners will need to renew between the fifth and sixth year, and then again between the ninth and tenth year. After that, trademark owners will file renewals every ten years. Failing to meet those deadlines will also result in a dead trademark.
Finally, a trademark may also become dead if a third party petitions to cancel it. A petition could be filed if someone feels it is confusingly similar to their own mark. If they can show that the current owner has stopped using the mark, this may be ground for killing a mark as well. Typically, the mark would need to go unused for three years for the USPTO to consider the trademark dead. In some cases, a petition may also be filed if the mark has become generic over time. Kleenex, for example, began as a specific brand of facial tissue, but has come to represent all brands of tissue over the years.