I would recommend that you hire an attorney without delay. Even filing an answer is not something that you can adequately do yourself. You have three weeks to hire an attorney and have him or her file an answer on your behalf. That gives you plenty of time, but you must act quickly. Do a search on Avvo for trademark attorneys and start calling them for consultations.
Cancelling a trademark or defending against someone's attempt to cancel your TM isn't a DIY job. If your TM is important to you, then yes, a lawyer is crucial, and I'm guessing you won't be able to defend your TM much without one. You're already pushing your deadline, so hire someone fast.
Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.
For electronic filing, you have until midnight (Eastern time) on February 20. If you are in Los Angeles, California, that would be 9 pm (Pacific time). I would not recommend that you retain a trademark attorney as soon as possible. It is often more difficult and expensive to fix problems later instead of avoiding them in the first place (and you are more likely to make those mistakes if you do not hire an attorney).
This answer is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as specific legal advice regarding your question. The answer could be different if all of the facts were known. This answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
Your two questions make it clear you do not have the ability to handle this problem.
Nor should you expect to. Court and agency procedures are structured so a given trial or appeal will take the least possible time of the judge(s). Period. They are not set up to accommodate amateurs who wander onto the field. Just because you were able to handle speeding court or red light court—which often does accommodate amateurs—is no guide.
And what is worse, you also do not know the substantive rules of the proof needed to knock off an existing mark, such as yours. They are also intricate, although that is because they have been highly polished over some 400 years of trademark law by lawyers vying to gain advantage for their clients by emphasizing tiny distinctions.
So, if you value the mark someone is trying to cancel you will spend money for a lawyer to protect it, or not.
Licensed in Maryland with offices in Maryland and Oregon. Information here is general, does not create a lawyer-client relationship, and is not a substitute for consulting with an experienced attorney on the specifics of your situation.
To get a sense of how a Trademark Trial and Appeal Board proceeding will play out you should peruse its 2100 page Manual of Procedure [visit the link below]. Because that Manual incorporates large parts of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [including discovery] you should familiarize yourself with those rules as well [visit the other link below]. And then you should conclude that you have NO possibility of prevailing in the proceeding unless you hire a trademark attorney. If your trademark is important to your business you have no choice. And if it's not then your own attorney may be able to persuade the plaintiff in the proceeding to buy it. In short, hire a trademark attorney.
The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.
You are too far along already if you have not attorney. You needed an attorney at the outset. MAJOR MISTAKE on your part. Get one pronto or plan to lose.
I sounds like you are registrant and someone seeks to cancel your registration and now you have to respond to the Petition for Cancellation. Feb 20 means by midnight Feb 20 Eastern time.
Deposing with written questions by a layman is one of the dumber things you could do.
How far. NO FURTHER. You need an attorney to respond. You are in over your head. If you respond you will screw this up for sure.
That you think you have to tell us a Cancellation is before the PTO and no infringement tells us you are a complete novice. Every TM attorney here knows a Cancellation is at the PTO and every TM attorney knows better than to just accept as face value your statement "no infringement." If you are the registrant, "no infringement" is a foolish thing to say, until you are absolutely sure. Often a Cancellation results from an applicant trying to overcome a 2(d) rejection for likelihood of confusion. If that is your situation, you sure don't want to be saying "no infringement." Errors like that are commonplace by pro se litigants since they generally have a fool for a client and a fool for a lawyer. Don't be a fool, get a lawyer NOW.
I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.
The question really is, "How much do I value my trademark?" Take that question and the answer you come up with, and balance it to the risk you want to take representing yourself. If the value outweighs your risk threshold for a particular part of this process, hire an attorney right away.