Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 20, 2013

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A trademark is a paid-for license limiting the use of a particular symbol for representing a business to a particular party or entity. If a trademark’s license is not maintained, then it may not be protected any further. When this happens, it is placed on the canceled list of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

What is a patent?
A patent is intellectual property. It is an idea created by an individual that was then purchased by a business as their symbol. This symbol is then submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office along with a form specifying fonts, color codes and artwork details. After review and payment of the trademark fee, the trademark becomes the protected intellectual property of a particular business.

What is the USPTO Database?
The United States Patent and Trademark Database is a collection of trademarks sorted by design codes. This database enables businesses seeking a trademark to verify that their mark is unique. If a mark is listed as “Live”, then it is already in use and cannot be trademarked or used by another business.

What does it mean when the trademark is labeled as “Canceled”?
A canceled trademark, or dead trademark, is one that has not been used for the past three years or for which the filings were not maintained. Unlike live trademarks, canceled trademarks may be purchased and used by companies other than the original business. This is because the original business is no longer using it or seeking protection for it.

How long does a trademark last?
Trademarks do not have a renewal limit. As long as a business is actively using the mark and paying the licensing fees, then their mark will remain protected. Under current law, if a trademark is not used for 3 years, then it is considered a “dead” mark that may be taken by someone else.