In the United States, the time elapsed from filing a trademark application to the issuance of a registration can be as little as seven months or as long as four years or more. The USPTO takes, on average, a little over ten months to take an average application from filing to the issuance of a registration, notice of abandonment, or notice of allowance. The major variables are:
The filing basis. Applications filed based on only a claim of use in US commerce tend to be processed the most quickly, since the Examining Attorney has all the information necessary to review whether registration is appropriate. Applications filed on an intent-to-use basis are reviewed by the UPSTO are “allowed” after substantive examination and publication for opposition, and the applicant is granted 6-month periods (with up to five extensions available) to amend to claim use. Applications based on foreign filings and applications filed through the Madrid Protocol, an international trademark treaty, have slightly different timelines. Graphics showing timelines for use-based and intent-to-use based applications, courtesy of the USPTO, are shown below.
Whether there are substantive issues. The most common cause for slow-downs are when the Examining Attorney raises substantive issues with the application, included in an “Office Action.” For more information about common examination issues, you can view our guide here.
Oppositions. Opposition proceedings at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board are a form of administrative litigation, complete with the usual pleadings, discovery, briefing, and so forth. Needless to say, none of this is fast. Contested proceedings that are not settled can take years, and even getting decisions on contested motions can take eight weeks or more.
For up to date figures on trademark prosecution processing, you can visit the USPTO Data Visualization Center’s Trademarks Dashboard; for up to date figures on trademark administrative dispute processing, you can visit the USPTO Data Visualization Center’s TTAB Dashboard.
Internationally, prosecution times can vary widely. In some countries, like Belgium or Denmark, registrations can be obtained in just weeks; in other countries, like Brazil and India, applicants often face considerable delays.