Federal Circuit Clarifies Standard For Proving "Fraud" in Trademark Renewals

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On August 31, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision holding that, in order for a trademark registration to be canceled on the basis of fraud, the party challenging the registration must prove that the registrant had actual intent deceive the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”). Recent decisions by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“T.T.A.B.”), including Medinol v. Neuro Vasx, Inc., 67 U.S.P.Q.2d 1205 (T.T.A.B. 2003), had previously applied a broader objective inquiry into whether the applicant “knew or should have known” with respect to allegations of fraudulent representation, resulting in the cancellation of various trademark registrations. Here, the Court explicitly rejected application of such a standard and affirmatively stated that cancellation is only justified where there is proof of subjective fraudulent intent.

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