A registered trademark can exist potentially forever- assuming that your trademark mark is kept in proper order. And, if you do not safeguard your registered trademark, then your mark can become abandoned. Furthermore, a registered trademark is subject to cancellation by third parties under certain conditions.
The three common reasons for a trademark cancellation include (1) non-use by the registrant, (2) the mark becoming generic, and/or (3) fraud.
Non-Use of Trademark in Commerce
Although a trademark can indeed exist forever, these trademark rights are subject to continued use in commerce. Substantial non-use in commerce provides the opportunity for third parties to file a cancellation before the USPTO. The third party would need to properly detail the grounds for such non-use, and provide specific details that clearly show that you have not been using your mark. Considering this risk, it is important to continue to use your registered trademark in commerce, and make the necessary filings with the USPTO.
Trademark Becomes Generic
A second ground that can be used to cancel a trademark is that the mark has become generic. This means that your mark has become so associated with the underlying good or service that it is used interchangeably with your mark. Once a registered trademark becomes generic, it is no longer subject to trademark protection- and is thus subject to cancellation. Owners of trademarks, including registered trademarks, should take steps to protect their marks to ensure they do not become generic.
Fraud in obtaining the registration can also lead to the cancellation of a trademark at any time. Some registered trademarks, after they have become “incontestable,” are more difficult to cancel. Fraud is one allegation that can be brought at any time; however the standards for proving fraud can be at times difficult.
Last Modified: December 5th, 2009