Asked in Copyright and Trademark

Q: Can I use a quote or phrase that has a 606 trademark status as of 2016?

The phrase I am interested in was filed in 2014 (international class 014) . I want to use it for graphic design.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Brandon M. Selinsky
Brandon M. Selinsky
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Denver, CO

A: A "606 status" means the PTO has deemed the application "abandoned" for failing to file a statement of use ("SOU"). The need for an SOU arises when the application is filed as "intent to use," meaning the applicant is not currently using the mark in commerce but the applicant has a good-faith intention of using it soon. If the PTO provisionally approves the application, an SOU (or an extension) must be filed within a certain amount of time. Failing that, the application becomes abandoned.

The answer to your question depends on a number of factors. First of all, just because that particular application failed does not mean the applicant--or someone else--is not using the mark in commerce now. A registration is not required to use a trademark, and an unregistered trademark is enforceable against infringers. So if you are going to use a word, phrase, or logo to sell goods/services, you should do a thorough search first to make sure it is available. If another business is using the same or similar mark in the same or similar industry, you could be inviting trouble by using it.

If you are using a phrase in a design, then it depends on what you are using the design for. If it is for a logo for a business, then you want to clear the phrase by doing the search I identified in the above paragraph. If you are using for art, then it depends on what you are doing with the art but you are less likely to encounter a problem.

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