Once a trademark application is filed it is assigned to an “examining attorney” at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The examining attorney reviews the trademark applications for federal registration and determines whether an applicant meets the requirements for federal registration. The examining attorney will conduct a search for conflicting marks, and an examination of the written application, the drawing, and any specimen.
If the examining attorney decides that a mark should not be registered, the examining attorney will issue a letter (Office action) explaining any substantive reasons for refusal, and any technical or procedural deficiencies in the application.
If the examining attorney sends an Office action, the applicant’s response to the Office action must be received in the Office within six months of the mailing date of the Office action, or the application will be declared abandoned.
If the applicant’s response does not overcome all objections, the examining attorney will issue a final refusal.
To attempt to overcome a final refusal, the applicant may, for an additional fee, appeal to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). The TTAB is an administrative tribunal within the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
If the examining attorney raises no objections to registration, or if the applicant overcomes all objections, the examining attorney will approve the mark for publication.
Any party who believes it may be damaged by registration of the mark has thirty (30) days from the publication date to file either an opposition to registration or a request to extend the time to oppose.
An opposition is similar to a proceeding in a federal court, but is held before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
If no opposition is filed or if the opposition is unsuccessful, the application enters the next stage of the registration process. A Certificate of Registration will issue for applications based on use, or a Notice of Allowance will issue for intent-to-use applications.