Trademark Glossary

declaration of incontestability (section 15)

Section 15 Trademark Declaration of Incontestability is a sworn statement claiming "incontestable" rights in a mark. It allows a trademark owner to request the highest status of trademark protection under federal law. Once a Declaration of Incontestability is approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), an owner is protected against many legal challenges that people or businesses might raise to contest the owner's right to the mark.

If a trademark's certificate states that it is on the "Principal Register," and the mark has continuously been used in commerce for five (5) consecutive years since its registration, a trademark owner may file a Declaration of Incontestability.

With incontestable status, a trademark owner is protected from challenges that his or her mark is:
(1) not inherently distinctive and lacks secondary meaning;
(2) confusingly similar to a mark that someone else began using prior to the owner's registration; and
(3) simply functional. To file this form, additional filing fees apply but incontestable registration only requires a one-time filing.

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