Formerly, under United States law, if a trademark had not been used for two consecutive years, it was presumed abandoned. This gave a considerable advantage to a party who had gone to the Patent and Trademark Office or to Federal court to have a registered mark canceled on the basis of abandonment. GATT has extended this two-year period to three years, effective January 1, 1996.
Not only will this provision work to the advantage of a current registrant, but it will also supplement an advantage held by non-United States applicants. Applicants must ordinarily show proof of use of a trademark in the United States before registration will be finally given. However, foreign applicants will not have to provide such proof if the United States application is based on a registration of the same mark in the applicant's home country. The extension of the trademark term will define a three year period within which a foreign applicant can keep a defensive registration of a mark that has never been used in the United States, unless abandonment can be proven positively.
2. Wines and Spirits with Geographically Misleading Indications.
GATT prohibits registration of marks for wines and spirits when those marks include misleading geographical indications. This provision is applicable only to marks used for the first time after January 1, 1996. This provision was implemented to comply with NAFTA.
3. Other Countries to Implement United States-type Provisions.
Countries other than the United States will be required to change their laws to a) provide to registration of service marks, b) improve protection for marks that are well-known internationally, c) forbid mandatory linking of trademarks, and d) prevent compulsory licensing of marks.
Last updated on 20 October 1995.