On Friday, the Trademark Public Advisory Committee (TPAC) met at the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, VA. The handouts from the meeting are at the bottom of the post. Below is a summary of the key points discussed at the meeting:
The committee was meeting for the first time in 2016 and FY2016.
- New chairperson: Dee Ann Weldon-Wison
- New members:
- Mei Lan-Stark
- Lisa Dunner
- Other members:
- Jody Drake
- Ann Chasser
- Timothy Lockhart
- Jonathan Hudis
- Deborah Hampton
- William Barber (vice-chair)
OCFO Budget Update (Frank Murphy, Deputy Chief Financial Officer)
- The FY17 budget was released by the White House last week.
- Includes hiring of 63 new trademark examiners and 1 TTAB administrative judge.
- Decreases IT funding from FY16 by $4.6 million.
- The FY16 budget currently estimates $279.8 million in trademark fees.
- Trademark fees through 12/31/2015 were down 1% over the prior FY.
- The USPTO is already beginning to plan or the FY18 budget.
- USPTO is currently drafting the notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) regarding fee increases, and it will be published in the spring.
- The rulemaking is anticipated to have an effective date of January 2017.
Legislative Update – Dana Robert Colarulli (Director, Office of Governmental Affairs)
- Commissioner Denison testified on February 11, 2015, regarding the HAVANA CLUB trademark issues.
- There is unlikely to be any real movement on legislative issues in this presidential election year.
Trademark Operations – Commissioner Mary Boney Dennison
- Major USPTO power outage event in December was not caused by an IT issue.
- It affected all USPTO computer systems.
- Pendency goals meet on exceed targets.
- Q1 FY2016 filings were up 12.6% over the prior year.
- USPTO is predicting a 7% increase in filings for the entire fiscal year.
- USPTO has seen a 3% increase (to approx. 84%) in number of applications that are prosecuted entirely electronically from start to finish.
- TEAS RF accounts for approximately 50% of all new applications.
- There are 474 Examining Attorneys currently, approximately 85% of them telework full time
- 43 new attorneys were hired in FY2015.
- USPTO plans to hire 60 in FY2016 (20 began in November, and other 20 or so start this month).
- USPTO recently hired Deloitte Consulting to help examine and improve customer service.
- Fee increase proposal
- A 60 day comment period will follow the NPRM this spring.
- Some changes to the proposals have been made following feedback in the fall.
- Post-registration amendments to identifications due to technology evolution:
- Since September 1, 32 petitions have been received.
- 11 examples have been posted by USPTO.
- Post-registration use pilot update: the pilot, which studied the actual use of marks for their registered goods upon filing of Section 8 renewals, will be the subject of an upcoming proposed rulemaking to make random audits of Section 8 filings a permanent practice, as well as to increase the solemnity of the Section 8 affidavit.
- The USPTO is still considering other options including a shortened expungement proceeding.
- The USPTO has conducted several “Trademark Tuesdays” featuring live video chats with interested users at the USPTO’s regional offices.
Trademark Trial and Appeal Board – Chief Administrative Trademark Judge Gerard Rogers
- The TTAB currently has 23 Administrative Judges and 13.5 interlocutory attorneys.
- TTAB new case filings are up the first quarter of FY2016 over the numbers from prior year, and expected to remain up throughout the fiscal year.
- Details regarding current pendency measurements are in the slides (below).
- Notice of Proposed Rulemaking featuring a new Rules packaged is expected to be published in March. There are four main goals/elements:
- Leverage the use of technology and electronic communications.
- Remove plaintiff’s obligations to serve notice on the defendant.
- Discovery changes, including encouraging earlier completion of discovery and moving the deadline for filing a motion for summary judgment to prior to the first date to serve pre-trial disclosures.
- Add trial testimony efficiencies, for example allowing parties to submit testimony by affidavit (instead of deposition) but subject to possible cross-examination.
- The Board will be doing outreach this spring regarding the new rules.
IT Update – Chief Information Officer John Owen II & Manager Raj Dolas
- Explained the details regarding the power outage, and recovery, in December.
- No data was lost, unless there was a transaction “in process” at the time of the outage it is possible that it was not recorded.
- Eventually, all systems will be moved to the cloud as that reduces vulnerability. But ‘legacy systems’ cannot be moved to cloud.