A lot of work goes into a company’s brand identity, and trademarks are part of that – but it’s not enough to just register your mark with the government. You may also have to defend it against future challenges and enforce your rights.
That’s not always easy. A challenger may bring a suit that claims that your trademark is too generic to deserve protection, or that it’s merely descriptive, for example. Even if you win the suit, that takes precious resources, including time and money, away from your business.
A declaration of incontestability can help
If the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) confers a declaration of incontestability on your trademark, that can heavily deter challenges by others. Incontestability creates a legal presumption that your trademark is valid that would have to be overcome before a suit could be successful, and that’s a big hill to climb.
To obtain incontestability status you must file a Section 15 declaration of your rights to the mark no sooner than the fifth anniversary of its registration and no later than the sixth (although a six-month grace period is sometimes granted).
In addition, your mark must have been in continuous use during that five-year period, and it must not have been adversely affected by any ruling that would weaken its strength or enforceability.
Challenges to incontestability can still be brought, but a challenger would have to prove something like the mark has been abandoned or that it was obtained under some sort of fraudulent action to succeed.
Trademarks are complicated to maintain, and this is not something that you can handle on your own. Discussing your options for your intellectual property with someone who understands the steps involved can make it easier to understand the best path forward.