We have all been rejected at some point in our lives, and needless to say it doesn’t feel good. Whether it was a job interview, a school we applied to, or by someone we liked, the sense that we put ourselves out there only to be left hanging generally doesn’t sit well. The same holds true with a trademark application. You put the time and effort into creating a mark that you attempted to register with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and instead of receiving an acceptance letter accompanied by praise for your idea, you were delivered a letter of rejection signifying your shortcomings instead of your accomplishments.
A trademark rejection, however, shouldn’t be viewed in the same light as most rejections. While most rejections are a one-shot deal, a trademark rejection leaves open the possibility for correction. Once your trademark application is received by the Patent and Trademark Office, it is reviewed by an examiner for any defects in form and substance, and this process can take up to four months. If any defects are found in the application, the examiner issues an action setting for the basis for rejection. Usually, the examiner will specify how the rejection can be remedied, for example by specifying that the description of goods needs to be amended.
Once the Patent and Trademark Office formally rejects the application, the applicant has six months to respond to the rejection. The response should deal with each individual basis for rejection mentioned in the office action. If the applicant fails to respond within that six-month window, the application may be declared abandoned. However, if the response to the rejection is incomplete or unpersuasive, the examiner will generally then issue a final action, which makes all outstanding requirements and refusals final. This “final rejection” means that the applicant must comply with the examiner’s request, take an appeal, or abandon the application within the six-month period. Even after a final rejection has been issued, an applicant may request a reconsideration of the final rejection. This request doesn’t change the amount of time an applicant has to remedy the application unless it brings up new issues or facts that require a change in action on the part of the Patent and Trademark Office.
Compare this to the other types of rejection we face in our daily lives, and it’s hard to see how this is really classified as a rejection at all. Nonetheless, it is extremely important to address the issues laid out by the examiner in a rejection of a trademark application in order to ensure the application isn’t abandoned. If you are in the process of filing for a trademark and have just received a rejection of your trademark application, you should consult an intellectual property attorney to help correct any issues with the application so that the response will be accepted.