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Written by : Aida Lani
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if the trademark registration has lapsed can i use it i'm going to answer that question in the next four minutes i'm angela langlotz trademark and copyright attorney i'm going to spend our time today answering a viewer question so jason bowden distal this is for you jason messaged me and he asked i have a question if a trademark is dead or cancelled and a company hasn't used it within 10 or more years is it safe to register it for my company okay so you go into the trademark database you see the mark that you want to file and you go to look at it and it's dead it's dead so you think wahoo i can use it well not so fast not so fast you might not be able to use it we need to do a little bit more digging now remember that trademark rights are acquired through use right not just registration you have to keep using the mark in order to maintain your trademark rights if you don't use the mark then your trademark rights can be lost irrespective of your registration status so we have to very carefully look at this so just because somebody had their trademark lapse okay and it can lapse for a number of reasons it could have been cancelled can be canceled for non-renewal it can be cancelled because somebody else filed a cancellation proceeding against that trademark it can be cancelled because somebody went in and said we are abandoning this trademark okay so we have to look at the record and see exactly what happened if it's cancelled because somebody else filed a cancellation proceeding then we probably want to investigate whether the people that filed the cancellation proceeding are still using the trademark that they were using when they filed the trademark cancellation proceeding because that mark that they they were using was probably the reason why they had the trademark registration in question canceled right we also have to look at this just because a mark is canceled that doesn't mean that you can still use it because a subsequent applicant may have come in between the time the trademark registration lapsed and the time that you looked at it and got all excited there may have been someone else come in and register a mark that now would be considered confusingly similar to the mark that you're proposing to use so the the bottom line is you really need to look at the record and consider all of the possibilities when you are looking at using any mark not just an abandoned mark but in general if somebody hasn't used a trademark for a number of years we usually say two if you haven't used the trademark and you don't have what we call excusable non-use then the trademark rights would lapse you may still have a trademark registration but somebody could come in and petition to cancel your mark for non-use so if you don't use your trademark the bottom line is you're likely to you to lose it either because you can't renew because you're no longer using the mark or because somebody else sees that you're no longer using it and files a cancellation proceeding so either of those things are possible and there's always the wild card of some intervening filing going on that may also affect your ability to use that trademark that's been canceled so jason i hope this helps you i'm going to tag you in this video so that you know that i answered your question if anyone else has questions you can drop them into the comments underneath the video i will answer them in a future live if you would like more trademark goodness i have a youtube channel you can just go to youtube and search trademark doctor you'll find me there you can also find me on facebook at facebook.com forward slash trademark doctor and online at trademarkdoctor.net
Thanks for your comment Louie Dolliver, have a nice day.
- Aida Lani, Staff Member
Thanks for this interesting article
Thanks Nelson your participation is very much appreciated
- Aida Lani
About the author
I've studied pest control at National University in La Jolla and I am an expert in user experience design. I usually feel stressed. My previous job was farmers and ranchers I held this position for 26 years, I love talking about fingerprint collecting and bingo. Huge fan of Amandla Stenberg I practice judo and collect first day covers.
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