What Is Intent-to-Use in Trademark Law?

There are plenty of different things to keep in mind when establishing a business, and it’s easy to get lost in all of the necessary legal paperwork, requirements, and regulations. Most business owners aren’t aware that they can register trademarks before they’re in use, which can help protect your valuable intellectual property from the get-go. While this is just one more thing to add to your long list of to-do’s, it could provide your business with some big benefits.

How Does Intent-to-Use Work?

As opposed to the regular a trademark filing, called “actual use”, intent-to-use is a lesser-known process that allows a business to claim a trademark for themselves before it’s actually put into use. Intent-to-use provides a significant protection that isn’t provided by an actual use application; because trademark infringement requires the use of the trademark in commerce, simply filing for a trademark via intent-to-use does not open your business up to litigation. To be clear, once your business begins using the mark, you will be at risk of litigation if it is an infringing mark. While you should always ensure that a trademark is non-infringing before registering it, this process can provide one more layer of protection.

Notably, the intent-to-use filing also establishes your first-use date as the date you filed the application. This could be a major benefit in the event of a trademark infringement issue, as the first-use date is taken into consideration when deciding who has the rights to the trademark. Your business will be able to finalize the mark at any time within six months of filing, effectively giving yourself a headstart on the protection of your trademark.

The intent-to-use application also comes with some extra costs, but they’re fairly minimal. When you file an intent-to-use application, you’ll confirm that you intend to use it in the future. The USPTO will require that you demonstrate that use at a later date, which requires filing a Statement of Use. The USPTO charges an additional $100 fee for this filing, per trademark. If your business does not make use of the trademark within six months of your application being approved, you may purchase an extension in six-month increments for $150 for up to three years.

For businesses that want to hit the ground running, or those who are already established and want to gain a headstart on their trademark filing, the intent-to-use application may be a good choice. For more information or to get started on filing your own trademarks, call Aftermarket Law today at (720) 221-4545, or contact us through our website.

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