In addition to untold financial strain, business owners who have had to put their business on hold in the COVID pandemic are struggling with another unforeseen threat: losing their trademark rights. Without a doubt, taking the right steps now is critical to protecting their business interests.

U.S. trademark law, which is ultimately in place to protect consumers, requires trademark holders to continuously use their trademarks or risk being challenged or cancelled for abandonment. This “use it or lose it” rule of thumb becomes even more complex outside the United States, where nonuse cancellation actions are rampant and proof of use is particularly difficult. But, focusing on the United States, it’s critical to understand that according to 15 USC Section 1127, a mark is deemed abandoned if either of the following occurs: when the mark’s use has been discontinued with an intent not to resume such use; or when the owner’s course of conduct causes the mark to become generic. And “intent not to resume” may be inferred from circumstances.

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