The following is an edited transcript of my video How Does the Supply Chain Impact the World of Trademarks?

The news is full  of stories lately the supply chain, trucking, store shelves, shipping, ports, customs, and all of these things that are currently providing challenges and backlogs throughout the supply chain. I challenged myself to think about how does the supply chain impact trademarks? Well, there isn’t a direct impact on trademarks, which is good news because if you are seeking trademark protection or working with your brand, the supply chain shouldn’t impact getting protection. But, there are a couple of tangential ways that it does impact the world of trademarks.

First of all, the fact that there are all these delays and sometimes empty shelves means that there’s perhaps an increased opportunity for knockoffs and counterfeits to fill the void and eat up some of the demand in the marketplace. Of course, when we’re thinking about knockoffs and counterfeits, that’s where strong trademark protection and enforcement plays a large role. Having a protected trademark and enforcing it against any potential infringers or counterfeiters that take advantage of those supply chain backups is one way that there’s an impact.

The second tangential way there’s an impact is the USPTO’s “supply chain”. And by that, I mean the backlog of trademark filings at the USPTO following the historic filing rush of 2020, which grew even more historic at the end of 2020 and early 2021. There’s a tremendous backlog longer than ever before in my 20 plus years of experience in the world of trademarks: longer delays than ever before getting an application reviewed, getting a renewal filing reviewed, getting other submissions to the Patent & Trademark Office reviewed. So that backlog has extended the timeframe that almost every filing at the USPTO requires, including the application process.

And as a result, it means that filing your application–as soon as possible generally–is even that much more important because you are that much farther are away in terms of weeks and months from getting the registration. So the sooner you start, the sooner you can complete it, all other things being equal. And of course, the sooner you start is better because you’re in line, you’re in the public database, you get a serial number, you start having some protections.

One additional way that supply chain issues and trademarks overlap is customs and border patrol, and those who import products into the United States and are dealing with supply chain issues now. Another brand protection tool that they may want to consider is to record trademark registrations with customs and border patrol to help do some automatic enforcement at those ports and borders where those current backlogs are being seen.


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