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Beware the abandonment of your trademark

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2024 | Intellectual Property

As a business owner, you understand that your trademark represents your brand and distinguishes your products or services from your competitors. However, failing to actively use your trademark can lead to its abandonment in the eyes of the law.

If U.S. intellectual property law ceases to recognize your rights to your trademark, it can leave your brand vulnerable and potentially allow others to claim ownership of your mark.

Defining trademark abandonment

U.S. law considers a trademark abandoned when the owner stops using it for three consecutive years without any intention to resume its use. This non-use period allows others to register and claim the abandoned trademark, provided they can demonstrate their intent to utilize it for economic purposes.

Maintaining your trademark rights

To maintain your rights over a trademark, you must actively use it in commerce. This means consistently applying the mark to your products and services, or using it in your advertising and marketing materials. Failure to do so can weaken your claim to the trademark, making it easier for others to challenge your ownership.

Exceptions to the abandonment rule

In some cases, circumstances beyond your control may prevent you from using your trademark for an extended period. Such situations include workers’ strikes, bankruptcy filings or legal restrictions on sales. In these instances, you may be able to provide evidence that you did not intend to abandon the mark.

Consequences of trademark abandonment

If another party successfully claims your trademark due to abandonment, you may face legal challenges and costly battles to regain control of your brand. These circumstances could also force you to rebrand your products or services, which can be a significant financial and reputational burden for your business.

Proactive protection of intellectual property helps safeguard the brand of a business and maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace. Regularly monitor your trademark usage and provide evidence of your intent to use it if necessary.