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Can I reserve a trademark for future use?

When you begin developing a business idea, you may want to trademark a name for a specific product well before refining product to its final state or releasing the product to the market. While it is not possible to fully file for a trademark at this point in the development, the Patent and Trademark Office does offer a solution for those in just this situation.

In these circumstances, it is possible to file an "intent to use" (ITU) registration. This means that you have not yet actually properly filed for a trademark, but that you intend to in the future and are setting the trademark aside.

Once you file the ITU, you have up to three years from the date of filing to officially register the trademark once the product officially goes into use. Since you filed the ITU, the trademark then retroactively applies to the period of time between when you filed the ITU and when you introduced the product to the market.

This is exceptionally useful for protecting ideas while they are in development, especially against those who might infringe on your trademark before you've properly refined the idea and introduced it to the market.

The trademark system is an important part of protecting your ideas. If not executed properly, you risk leaving your intellectual property open to infringement. It is wise to enlist the guidance of an experienced attorney who can help you understand the details of your trademark process and how to best protect your rights and ideas against infringement, especially in particularly competitive markets.

Source: Findlaw, "Protect Your Trademark from Infringement," accessed June 23, 2017

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