Ascribing a Date of First Use to a Trademark

All trademark registrations filed under Sections 1(a) or 1(b) of the Lanham Act carry a date of first use. In those registrations that are filed as intent-to-use applications, the date that the mark is first used is typically very easy to pinpoint. However, for registrations that begin as in-use applications, the date of first use is sometimes difficult to remember. If a company has been using a mark for several years, it can often be quite hard to pinpoint when that use first began, especially if the date wasn’t linked to a major launch (companies often launch a new product or brand at conventions and can remember the date of the convention).

When an application is filed, the applicant must specify the date that it first used the mark anywhere and the date that it first used the mark in commerce. These dates must be accurate and definite. It isn’t enough to say “June 1999” or “2010.” Instead, the date should be entered as the last day in that period. For instance, if the business knew it started using a mark sometime in June 1999, then the acceptable way to enter that date would be as the last day of June 1999: 06/30/1999. The application will then state that the mark was in use “at least as early as 06/30/1999.”

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