What are the Steps in a Trademark Opposition Process?

How does a Trademark Opposition Begin? The first step in a trademark opposition is to file a Notice of Opposition during the Opposition Period or file for an extension of time to file a Notice of Opposition. If an extension of time is applied for, the Notice of Opposition must be filed within the given time frame by the original party that filed for the extension. The Notice of Opposition is the beginning of the Pleadings Stage which consists of:

The Notice of Opposition (the complaint) filed by the opposer;

The Answer and any affirmative defenses and/or counterclaims filed by the applicant; and

Any Answer to a counterclaim (if filed) filed by opposer.

What is in a Notice of Opposition? The Notice of Opposition sets out (usually in numbered paragraphs) identifying information about the opposer including its allegations for standing and grounds for opposition. Suggested format for Opposition from USPTO.

What is an Extension of Time to Oppose? Just as any person, whether natural or juristic who believes that he, she, or it would be damaged by the registration of a mark upon the Principal Register may, upon payment of the prescribed fee, file an opposition in the Office, stating the grounds therefor, within 30 days after the publication of the mark in the Official Gazette for purposes of opposition, also similarly, any person, whether natural or juristic, who believes that he, she, or it would be damaged by the registration of a mark upon the Principal Register may file a written request to extend the time for filing an opposition. The first request can be for 30 days with no reason necessary or 90 days for good cause or consent. If the first request was for 30 days, a second request for 60 days can be made for good cause or consent. Ninety (90) additional days for a maximum of 180 days may be obtained with consent or under extraordinary circumstances.

What if you miss the time limit to oppose or to file for an extension of time to oppose? Time limits for filing Notices of Opposition or Requests for Extensions of Time to Oppose are strictly enforced. The next option may be to file a petition to cancel, after the trademark registers. It takes about 3 months from the close of the opposition period (including extensions) until a registration issues if the case is not an Intent to Use case. It may take much longer for an Intent to Use case to mature to registration. Check the TM web site or status line to see if it has registered.

What does “Good Cause” mean when referring to an extension of time to oppose someone in a trademark opposition?

Circumstances that may constitute good cause include but are not limited to additional time to investigate claim, additional time to confer with counsel, additional time to settlement discussions, additional time to seek counsel applicant's consent to the extension, settlement negotiations between the parties, the filing of a letter of protest by the potential opposer, an amendment of the subject application, the filing of a petition to the Director from the grant or denial of a previous extension, extraordinary circumstances and civil litigation between the parties.

The ESTTA form includes radio buttons to click for several “good cause” reasons:

What is in an Answer to a Notice of Opposition?

In its answer the applicant is required to admit or deny the allegations in the Notice of Opposition. The applicant can also assert affirmative defenses. Affirmative defenses may include unclean hands, laches, estoppel, acquiescence, fraud, mistake, prior registration defense, prior judgment, or any other matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense.

What happens after the pleadings? Here is an example of a time scheduled steps with the pleadings (Notice of Opposition and Answer or Petition to Cancel and Answer) shaded.

Someone else filed for an extension of time to oppose, does that mean that I have more time to oppose also? Not unless there is still time in the original Opposition Period for you to file your own extension of time. TBMP 206.01  An extension of time to oppose is a personal privilege which inures only to the benefit of the party to which it was granted and those in privity with that party. (A party cannot claim the benefit of an extension granted to another (unrelated) party. Cass Logistics Inc. v. McKesson Corp., 27 USPQ2d 1075, 1077 (TTAB 1993) )

Can I just tell the examiner who refused my application because of a likelihood of confusion with an already pending or registered mark that I was using the trademark before they were? A trademark examiner cannot take into account information that is outside of the realm of their duties and decide to exert the rights of someone new applying for a trademark over someone who is already registered or whose application was already pending. At the USPTO, only the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) can do this and only in an Opposition or Cancellation Proceeding at the proper stage of one of these proceedings. If you believe that there is no likelihood of confusion, you can argue this position in your answers to the office action and file an appeal to the TTAB within six months of the mailing date of the final refusal to register. The trademark examiner can suspend your application pending the outcome of an Opposition or Cancellation proceeding only if your application is still LIVE and not abandoned so the timing of the filing of the Notice of Opposition or Petition to Cancel may be very important. (The filing of the Notice of Opposition is always important as it can only take place during the Opposition Period or during an extension of time to file by the same party.)

Opposition or Court? An opposition proceeding is similar to a court proceeding in many respects except that it is filed with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), an administrative tribunal of the USPTO. An Opposition with the TTAB is less expensive than a court proceeding. An opposition is based on a written record only (in most cases-oral hearings are rare but can be requested).  A court can decide registrability issues and other issues such as infringements while the TTAB can only decide registerability. Whether an Opposition or Court case is the best answer is something much more complex than an FAQ can answer!

What does ttabvue stand for? TTABVUE refers to the "Trademark Trial and Appeal Board Inquiry System," which is the electronic record of proceedings before the Board.

What does ESTTA stand for? ESTTA is an acronym for "Electronic System for Trademark Trials and Appeals." ESTTA is the system for filing papers electronically with the Board.

 Call NOT JUST PATENTS® Legal Services with more questions at 1-651-500-7590.  See Why Should I Have A Trademark Attorney Answer My Office Action if you have already applied and been refused.


from date of institution

number of days from last step

Date of institution of Notice of Opposition or Petition to Cancel


Due date for an answer - 40 days from the date of the institution order. (Institution date plus 40 days.)



Deadline for a disclosure/discovery/settlement conference - 30 days from the date the answer is due. (Institution date plus 70 days.)



Discovery opens - 30 days after the date the answer is due.  (Institution date plus 70 days.)



Deadline for making initial disclosures - 30 days from the opening of the discovery period. (Institution date plus 100 days.)



Deadline for disclosure of expert testimony - 30 days prior to close of discovery. (Institution date plus 220 days.)



Discovery closes - 180 days from the opening date of the discovery period. (Institution date plus 250 days.)



Deadline for plaintiff's pretrial disclosures - 15 days prior to the opening of plaintiff's testimony period.  (Institution date plus 295 days.)



Plaintiff's 30-day testimony period - closes 90 days after the close of discovery. (Institution date plus 340 days.)



Deadline for defendant's pretrial disclosures - 15 days prior to the opening of defendant's testimony period. (Institution date plus 355 days.)



Defendant's 30-day testimony period - closes 60 days after the close of plaintiff's testimony period.  (Institution date plus 400 days.)



Deadline for plaintiff's rebuttal pretrial disclosures - 15 days prior to the opening of plaintiff's rebuttal testimony period. (Institution date plus 415 days.)



Plaintiff's 15-day rebuttal testimony period - closes 45 days from close of defendant's testimony period. (Institution date plus 445 days.)



Plaintiff's Main Brief-60 days from close of the rebuttal testimony period



Defendant's Main Brief-30 days from due date of the plaintiff's main brief



Plaintiff's Rebuttal Brief-15 days from due date of the defendant's main brief




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Call 1-651-500-7590 or email WP@NJP.legal for Responses to Office Actions; File or Defend an Opposition or Cancellation; Trademark Searches and Applications; Send or Respond to Cease and Desist Letters.

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Patent or Trademark Assignments

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Patent, Trademark & Copyright Inventory Forms

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Counterclaims and Affirmative Defenses

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