I recently attended the Trademark Public Advisory Committee‘s (TPAC) quarterly public meeting on October 12, 2012 at the USPTO in Alexandria, Virginia. The following is summary of the key items discussed. See below for the handout materials provided, which include more details about the “dashboard” filing and pendency numbers for trademark operations and the TTAB.
One new member has been appointed to TPAC – Dee Ann Weldon-Wilson of Exxon Mobil. In addition, one member returns for a new term appointment, Kathryn Barrett Park.
Budget Update by Frank Murphy, Deputy CFO
- Trademarks finished the fiscal year with $249M in revenue, close to the projections. Spending ($232M) was also near the estimate.
- USPTO is still operating on a “continuing resolution” at FY2012 appropriate levels. There is a chance of “sequestration” coming up which would result in across the board budget cuts. Unlikely that anything will change prior to the Presidential election coming up.
- The initial draft of the FY2014 was submitted to OMB in September, and the USPTO expects to complete the budget to submit to Congress in February 2013. The USPTO is currently taking comments regarding the possible adjustment of trademark fees, and if any changes are proposed the CFO will need to look at how these affect the budget numbers.
Legislative Update by Dana Colarulli
- USPTO is watching several bills that affect intellectual property, including:
- Saving High Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (SHIELD) – software patent litigation
- Fashion design bill – has been passed out of Senate Judiciary committee; not sure it if will go any futher
- PLT and Hague treaty implementation – passed by Senate
- AIA technical corrections
IP Attaché Program by Shira Perlmutter
- The USPTO has a program providing Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Attachés overseas in certain locations
- The program launched in 2006 formally but has been growing recently
- Been met with a lot of support and success
- The role of the attachés is to promote IP interests for the benefit of US stakeholders; advocate with host governments; provide education to officials, judges, examiners, and others about US IP rights; and monitor IP developments “on the ground” in the post locations
- NOTE: there is additional information about the program, its goals, and the various posts at http://www.uspto.gov/ip/global/attache/index.jsp
Trademark Operations by Commissioner Debbie Cohn
- In FY2012, USPTO trademark operations met or exceeded all of its goals for quality and pendency.
- Trademark filings (by number of classes) was up 4.1% in FY2012.
- At end of FY2012, there are 1.8 million active registrations.
- USPTO hired approximately 34 trademark examining attorneys in FY 2012, planning to hire approximately 26 in FY 2013, beginning with a group in January.
- Looking into ways to enhance the ID manual usability, including some type of “ID checker” in TEAS forms and an “ID Filter” that would narrow the list of IDs in the ID manual to exclude those that have been created based on specific applicant requests for TEAS+ usage
- The TMEP now has enhanced search capabilities.
- The last print Official Gazette for trademarks will be issued on 12/25/2012. USPTO expects to have a new electronic gazette by the end of FY2013. Two focus groups covering the new OG have already been held.
- TSDR 2.0 was released in October with more features. Links from TARR redirect to TSDR.
- USPTO Currently accepting comments regarding (i) fee adjustment possibilities to increase use of electronic filing and communications, and (ii) possibly moving up the time period for submitting Section 8 and 71 affidavits of continued use.
- USPTO continues to encourage use of Ideascale for comments to TMEP and to draft examination guides.
- USPTO continues stakeholder outreach, including roundtables with INTA around the country and discussions with students, business owners, and the public via Craig Morris’ office.
- The “TM5” (formerly “Trilateral Group”) will be meeting in Barcelona at the end of October
International & Policy Update by Sharon Marsh, Deputy Commissioner for TM Examination Policy
- Collection of data about registrations and specimens of use is underway following the USTO rule change that took effect last summer. Very limited sample thus far, the project will take some time.
TTAB Update by Chief Judge Gerard Rogers
- Opposition and cancellation filings were up in FY2012, though not quite as high as the levels prior to the latest recessions.
- TTAB issued approximately 43 precedential decisions in FY2012.
- Recently hired three new interlocutory attorneys and four new judges, the majority of whom will begin working in November.
- Six examining attorneys are now assisting judges to review and summarize the record in cases with particularly large records.
- The judges and interlocutory attorneys are working to standardize some of the templates and formats they use.
- Outreach by TTAB: Recently participated in a program at UNH, in an ABA webinar and will e participating at the AIPLA conference.
- TTAB will be hosting a roundtable on ACR on October 30, 2012.
- TTAB is working to make TBMP easier to update and easier for users to navigate.
- TTAB is working on updates to the TTAB Dashboard data and displays.
OCIO update by John Owens
- TARR and TDR have officially been retired and replaced by TSDR 2.0.
- Emails featuring “notice of publication” in the Official Gazette now feature a direct link to the relevant page with the mark.
- Working on replacing the payment/financial system used by the trademark users to provide more features.
Next public TPAC meetings:
- March 1, 2013
- June 14, 2013