Your trademark is a powerful legal instrument that protects a specific type of intellectual property. A trademark can consist of any words, symbols, designs (or combinations of those elements) that can be used to uniquely identify you, your products, your employees, your marketing materials, your business locations, and your professional work in general. Logos, brand names, mascots, and slogans are all types of intellectual property that might get trademarked.
Unlike copyright, which protects the entirety of a creative work such as a film or video game, a trademark protects a sort of intellectual property that is strictly limited in scope and application. Trademark law applies specifically to commercial use. Trademarks are essential to branding, promotion, and labeling but are not a catch-all device for intellectual property protection.
Trademarks are crucial across industries. Let’s say you’re an up-and-coming singer. You would never try to register a trademark for a song you had written. (In that instance, you would leverage copyright, rather than trademark, law to protect your creation.) Your unique stage name, on the other hand, might very well have the potential to be trademarked.
A trademark can be thought of almost like a special type of license, in that you must fill out an application and pay a fee to a government office to receive one. And, just like your driver’s license, your trademark needs to be renewed on a regular basis.
Trademark renewal is the process of submitting paperwork to the appropriate state or federal agency so that your trademark doesn’t lapse.
The process of renewing a trademark can be complicated and tedious. Businesses often have multiple trademarks, register a single trademark in multiple classes (types of business), or file the same trademark in multiple states. The different renewal schedules and paperwork deadlines can make a mess of your calendar in no time.
The experienced legal team at Blake & Ayaz can handle every step of the trademark renewal process, leaving you free to focus on your business or next process.
HOW DO I RENEW MY TRADEMARK IN ORANGE COUNTY?
Trademark matters in the State of California are handled through a division of the Secretary of State’s office called the Trademark Unit. The form used to renew a trademark in the State of California is TM 109, which can be downloaded from the Secretary of State’s website. California trademark applications can be submitted through the California Secretary of State’s website, but you may want to wait until contacting a qualified trademark attorney before taking any action.
The US federal government has its own separate office for handling trademark and patent matters, aptly named the United States Trademark and Patent Office.
An improperly filed renewal can cause delays in processing or even a lapse in protection, so it’s crucial to hire a trustworthy intellectual property lawyer to assist you as a first step. Additional documentation to prove you’re actively using your trademark in a business capacity may also need to be filed from time to time. Your attorney can help you determine when and if this is necessary.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO RENEW A TRADEMARK?
The cost of renewing your trademarks will vary depending on how many classes in which you’re renewing and whether you’re registering with federal or state agencies or both.
The cost to file a TM 109 trademark renewal form with the California Secretary of State is only $30. This moderate fee can make filing on your own seem like an attractive idea, but take a moment to consider the true cost to your business, your revenue streams, and your reputation if your trademark is left unprotected due to inadequate legal representation?
Thirty dollars no longer looks like such a good deal if your paperwork is rejected or an unscrupulous competitor is able to violate your trademark rights.
The fee for renewals with the United States Trademark and Patent Office is higher. The federal government charges a $300 fee each time your trademark needs to be renewed. Thankfully this only occurs once every decade after the first two renewals.
HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO RENEW MY TRADEMARK?
On a federal level, the United States Trademark and Patent Office require trademark renewal after five years, again after nine years, and every ten years thereafter. They also require you to prove you’re actively using your trademark for business purposes. (That’s where the “trade” part of trademark comes in. You can only use trademarks to protect intellectual property that you’re explicitly using to do business.)
The State of California operates on a different schedule, with trademark renewals necessary every five years. Trademark renewal rules in other states vary, but renewals are typically good for several years at a time.
HOW DO I RENEW AN EXPIRED TRADEMARK?
The United States Trademark and Patent Office have no procedure for renewing an expired trademark. If you allow your trademark to lapse, you’ll have to go through the application process all over again and try to get a new trademark. This can be costly and time-consuming.
The Trademark and Patent Office does enact an automatic six-month grace period after each renewal deadline, so you may still have a chance to save your trademark if you catch your mistake in time to get the requisite paperwork and fee prepared. Filing during the grace period incurs an additional fee of $100 for each class in which your trademark is registered.
The State of California similarly offers a six-month window in which to renew your trademark after its expiration date, which occurs every five years.
Save yourself the stress and labor of keeping all these registration forms and renewal deadlines straight and avoid late filing fees and other headaches by hiring Blake & Ayaz to help you through the trademark renewal process in Orange County.
DO YOU NEED A LAWYER TO FILE A TRADEMARK?
While it is possible and completely legal to register or renew a trademark in the USA without the services of an attorney, it’s not recommended. Quality representation in all intellectual property matters can be crucial to your business’s success and survival. Working with a qualified trademark attorney to protect your ideas and your brand is standard practice in every relevant industry, be it publishing, content creation, art licensing, food and beverage, or high-tech applications.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF HIRING AN ATTORNEY FOR TRADEMARK REGISTRATION?
Good representation when trying to register or renew a trademark is crucial.
- Experience and expertise. You know your business inside and out, but you may know very little about the trademark renewal process. Mastering the full complexities of intellectual copyright law requires years of experience, and navigating the various government agencies involved in trademark matters is another skill set entirely. An experienced trademark lawyer will do both for you. Your team at Blake & Ayaz knows that your energy as a creator is better spent creating.
- Time management. Do you really want to be standing in line at the Secretary of State’s office or worrying over an unclear question on a patent office form when you could be working on your business? A qualified attorney will handle all the filing processes, make sure documents are correctly completed, and see that the requisite fees get paid on time.
- Protection. Don’t let a competitor profit from your hard-earned reputation because you didn’t renew your trademark on time. A competent trademark attorney will protect your intellectual property by keeping your registration up to date and won’t let your rights lapse due to missed deadlines or filing errors. They can also help review or draft licensing deals and business contracts to ensure your trademark is being put to work fairly, efficiently, and profitably. Your lawyer will also handle any litigation that might be needed to protect your trademark from being wrongfully used by others.
Blake & Ayaz are ready to help the innovators and creators of Orange County with all their trademark registrations and renewals. Contact our firm to learn your next steps for an Orange County trademark renewal.