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What is abandonment?

Abandonment is where one loses trademark rights, including the right to protect their mark and prevent others from using it or something confusingly similar. While there are several reasons that a mark may be deemed abandoned, the main reason is when the mark has not been used for an extended period of time. For example, a federally registered trademark is considered abandoned if its owner fails to use it for three consecutive years. Most state laws contain similar provisions that declare trademarks abandoned after a specified period of nonuse.

Even if the mark’s owner continues to use it, the trademark can still be abandoned in certain scenarios. For example, if the trademark owner learns of unauthorized and infringing uses of the mark and fails to take any steps to curb that use, his own rights in the trademark may be deemed abandoned. In addition, if the trademark has been licensed by the owner, and the owner fails to adequately supervise the licensed use of the mark, the trademark can be deemed abandoned.

Finally, with regard to the process of applying for a federal trademark registration pursuant to the terms of the Lanham Act, an application will be considered abandoned if the applicant does not respond to an Office Action (a rejection from the Patent and Trademark Office) within six months from the Office Action’s mailing date. Similarly, if the application was based on “intent to use” and is granted, it will be considered abandoned if a statement of use is not filed within the required time.