USPTO Trademark Trends

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Thursday I attended the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) virtual webinar on trademark trends and current developments in the United States and in Israel.  Among the speakers were Andrei Iancu, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, and David Gooder, the Commissioner for Trademarks at the USPTO.

Mr. Iancu provided opening remarks about the importance of intellectual property to world economics – for job creation, growth of existing companies, new business formation, and improving economies around the world. He noted that September 2020 was the biggest filing month in the USPTO’s history and that the fiscal year ending in September 2020 was the highest filing year in the USPTO’s history. He sees this growth continuing, due in part to the Covid-19 pandemic motivating people to create new companies, brands, and products, and he also referenced the growth of ecommerce and the shift to online retail. He explained that bad faith filings continue to plague the USPTO, in response to which the USPTO has taken a number of steps including requiring foreign filers to have US counsel (see our prior blog post here). He said, among other things, that intellectual property must be predictable, reliable, and enforceable – something with which companies and practitioners likely agree.

Mr. Gooder provided some tips for trademark applicants and common mistakes to avoid in trademark applications. He mentioned the need to use real specimens for showing use in commerce (see our prior blog post here) and proposed using more than one specimen when filing a use-based application. He suggested really knowing what the goods/services at issue are and volunteering a disclaimer when appropriate.  With respect to the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual (ID Manual), he advised using IDs only from the manual and making sure the ID reflects the end product (not the format of the specimen). He also explained that examiners truly try to help applicants get their marks approved and that picking up the phone is an easy way to connect with them.

Overall, the United States portion of the webinar was informative and interesting. It would be nice if the USPTO did them more often, whether in tandem with other countries or individually.

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