On Friday, the Trademark Public Advisory Committee (TPAC) met at the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, VA. The handouts/slides from the meeting are at the bottom of the post. Below is a summary of the key points discussed at the meeting:
The Friday meeting marked the first meeting for two new members, Eileen Tannen and Brian Winterfeld. For their bios, see TPAC page here.
Legislative Update – Dana Robert Colarulli (Director, Office of Governmental Affairs)
- The 115th Congress just began, and it is difficult to predict legislation for now.
- The current budget “Continuing Resolution” runs through April 28, 2017. It is quite possible that the rest of the fiscal year will also be via a continuing resolution.
- The USPTO provided testimony on December 7, 2016, in a hearing on”Time and Attendance Abuse at the USPTO.”
International Policy – Amy Cotton
- Ms. Cotton provided a ‘tour’ of the USPTO’s work in South America, including their work on issues such as
- Chile food labeling law.
- Geographic indicator issues in several counties.
- Establishing contact with the Cuban intellectual property office.
- Brazil’s plans to join the Madrid Protocol.
Trademark Operations – Commissioner Mary Boney Dennison
- Trademark filings in FY2016 represented 530,270 classes.
- For FY2017, the USPTO in projecting filings to increase 7.5 percent.
- There are 517 Examining Attorneys, with an additional 44 starting in January.
- 77% of Examining Attorneys telework.
- The telework act is set to expire at the end of 2017; USPTO is making contingency plans in case it is not renewed.
- Customer experience improvements are being implemented following report from Deloitte, including the hiring of two plain language writers, and a Chief Customer Experience Officer.
- 99.7% of application filings are made electronically.
- 85.6% of applications are handled entirely electronically end-to-end.
- Trademark fee changes went into effect on January 14, 2017.
- for full details, see https://www.uspto.gov/trademark/fees-payment-information/trademark-fee-changes
- The USPTO’s pilot program to permit some post-registration identification changes based on technology changes has received 97 petitions since September 2015.
- USPTO hopes that a final rule-making regarding the “deadwood” proof of use will be published before January 20th. If it is not published this week, it may get held up in the change of administrations.
- Revised declaration formatting will be displayed on electric filings.
- USPTO continues to work on possible expedited cancellation proceedings based on non-use.
- The Commissioner noted that the USPTO continues to take steps to attempt to warn users about and crack down on scams targeting trademark applicants and registrants.
USPTO Budge Update – Tony Scardino (Chief Financial Officer)
- Not a lot to report given the time of year and the change in administrations this month.
Trademark Trial and Appeal Board – Chief Administrative Trademark Judge Gerard Rogers
- Judge Ellen J. Seeherman retired in December.
- Robert H. Coggins is the newest TTAB judge.
- TTAB filings increased last year, and additional increases projected for FY2017.
- New TTAB rules went into effect on January 14, 2017.
- Judge Rogers indicated that the Rules revisions may lead to fewer ACR cases since some ACR features are now incorporated in the rules for all cases.
OCIO / TMNG Update – John Owens and Rob Harris
- The rollout of new Examiner computer systems is ongoing.
- eFiling enhancements are not expected until the end of FY2018
- No mention was made of improvements to T.E.S.S. or mobile formatting of USPTO web trademark systems.
The next TPAC meeting is scheduled for May 5, 2017.
Recently, I received a new trademark solicitation regarding a trademark registration renewal. The company calls itself “Patent & Trademark Office” with an address in New York, NY. See the image of their mailing that I scanned below.
The document could easily be mistaken as coming from the government – the “Patent & Trademark Office” name, the look and feel of the document, and the official looking bar code.
As a result of their use of the name “Patent & Trademark Office,” this solicitation is striking. On top of that, the services offered and the costs indicated are questionable.
Their “fee” of $1690 is not cheap. And it is not clear what services they provide? Is this a Section 8 renewal, or 8 and 15? Do they provided legal advice about which renewal is appropriate, and whether the mark is in use or in use for all the goods and services in the registration? Are they attorneys and members of the bar?
Note that when I last blogged about this offer, 16 months ago, the fee was $975.
If this was a legitimate service at a reasonable value, why would they mask who they are, and why would they choose the clearly deceptive name of “Patent & Trademark Office”? Why would their address have moved from “555 Madison Avenue, 5th Floor” to “299 Park Avenue, 6th Floor” in New York? Note that the address appears to be a rented Regus office space.
Their website appears to be patenttrademarkoffice.us, but the domain was not working when I checked it this week.
Beware of such scams. Read the fine print. Contact your attorney. Report scams to the FTC and USPTO.
For more information, see:
- How to avoid being taken by a trademark scam
- WARNING: Non-USPTO Solicitations That May Resemble Official USPTO Communications
White House Exit Memo from Department of Commerce: scant reference to patent and trademark protections
Last week, the Department of Commerce issued its Exit Memo as the Obama administration comes to a close and the next President takes office later this month. The report features hardly any references to the USPTO or to patent and trademark protections. I find this rather shocking and disappointing. The USPTO makes up a sizable percentage of the department’s overall budget – approximately one-quarter of it. Yet the USPTO’s activities and IP protection merit just a few sentences in the 15 page Exit Memo.
For the full report, see https://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/cabinet/exit-memos/department-commerce.
In the memo’s conclusion from Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, a different department is imagined (note that the re-organization, elimination, or consolidation of the department has been proposed many times, including a consolidation with SBA, USTR, and more by proposed by President Obama in 2012. Notably, the description for the future department in Secretary Pritzker’s conculsion is absent of any direct reference to intellectual property protections.
“I have come to believe that American businesses and the American taxpayer would be much better served by a streamlined “Department of Business,” similar to the President’s 2012 government reorganization proposal. A reorganized Department with a unified strategic plan for trade negotiations and enforcement, economic development, export financing, production of economic statistics and data, technology, and other business-focused services would provide stronger customer service to American businesses competing in a global economy.”
This lack of attention to trademarks and patents is quite shocking to an IP practitioner, of course. Especially in lights of the government’s recent report that intellectual property has an enormous impact on the US economy. Novemgber 2016 report called Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: 2016 Update was produced by the Economics & Statistics Administration (EAS) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Here are some key quotes from the report regarding the significance of IP and trademarks:
- This report shows that IP-intensive industries continue to be a major, integral and growing part of the U.S. economy. We find that the 81 industries designated as IP-intensive directly accounted for 27.9 million jobs and indirectly supported an additional 17.6 million jobs in 2014. Together, this represented 29.8 percent of all jobs in the U.S. The total value added by IP-intensive industries amounted to 38.2 percent of U.S. GDP and IP-intensive industries paid 47 percent higher weekly wages compared to other industries.
- Trademark-intensive industries are the largest in number and contribute the most employment with 23.7 million jobs in 2014 (up from 22.6 million in 2010). Copyright-intensive industries supplied 5.6 million jobs (compared to 5.1 million in 2010) followed by patent-intensive industries with 3.9 million jobs (3.8 million in 2010).
Given their incredible value and role in the economy of the US, the absence of a detailed discussion of patents and trademarks in the Exit Memo from the Department of Commerce is troubling.
According to USPTO records from the T.E.S.S. database, the USPTO received 388,552 trademark applications in 2016*. This is a record for the number of US applications filed in a year. It also represents a jump of approximately 5% over the prior year. While this growth is slower than the prior year, it still is a record number. 2015 also appears to have been a record year for the number of registrations issued: 232,487.
In 2015, the USPTO saw approximately 378,000 new applications (in January 2016, my search found 370,271 but the number has likely increased due to some foreign filings and divided applications).
In 2014, the USPTO saw approximately 345,000 new applications (In January 2015, my search found 336,239 but the number showing 2014 filing date has likely increased due to some foreign filings and divided applications).
With the rate of growth in application filings and registrations issued, the USPTO trademark register indicates steady and increasing growth in the economy.
* Data from TESS search on January 6, 2017