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How to keep your trademarks alive

A trademark will last forever – but only if it is regularly renewed. Whether you have a large or small portfolio, it is essential to have a system to manage trademark and other records to avoid accidental loss of rights. Good record-keeping and attention to deadlines will ensure your valuable trademarks never expire.

Unlike most IP rights, trademarks can last forever. As long as it continues to help consumers identify particular goods or services, a trademark will fulfill its function for many years, decades or even longer. Indeed, some famous marks continue to be used more than 100 years after they were registered, including the BASS red triangle logo for beer in the UK, the COCA-COLA mark in the United States and the PEUGEOT logo in France.


However, longevity is not guaranteed, and many trademarks are lost over time, either deliberately or due to inaction or neglect. In some cases, rights lapse simply because the trademark owner failed to file the correct paperwork or pay the renewal fee. That may sound like carelessness, but with a portfolio of hundreds or even thousands of trademarks, the task can be challenging. Many trademark portfolios include word marks, logos and slogans as well as sounds, shapes and colors registered for a variety of goods or services in numerous jurisdictions.

Moreover, the registrations will all have been made at different times. Therefore, success requires sound record-keeping systems, including details of all the registrations, dates, additional documents that might be necessary and – crucially – alerts about upcoming deadlines.

Why renew your trademark?

Securing a trademark registration may be a challenging process in itself, particularly if the mark is similar to others in the market or if it is necessary to prove acquired distinctiveness. After obtaining a registration, applicants might be tempted to breathe a sigh of relief and think that they have reached the end of the process. However, securing a registration means that the life of the trademark has only just begun!

Each trademark registration is valid for a certain number of years and must then be renewed. Provided the renewal is filed correctly and paid for, the trademark will continue to be valid forever. In most countries, and for international trademarks registered under the Madrid System, the renewal period is 10 years. Note, however, that some offices measure the time from the date of application and some from the date of registration.

Most offices send out reminders to trademark owners, or their representatives, ahead of the deadline, but these should not be relied on in case the ownership or contact details are not updated. Download our white paper to discover more!

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