The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office made some tweaks this week to its website for online trademark filers using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). Online trademark filers are now greeted by the warning copied below in bold letters.
There a three significant parts to the warning, particularly for anyone trying to file a trademark application for the first time:
- A trademark application is a “legal proceeding” with deadlines and many “legal requirements.”
- Meaning: Mistakes may jeopardize you protection, the possibility for approving your application and registering your trademark, as well as your non-refundable government filing fee.
- “Only licensed attorneys may represent you before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).”
- Meaning: Be careful of companies that claim to provide trademark services but are not actually licensed attorneys and cannot give you legal advice. These companies are not bound by legal ethics rules or attorney-client privilege. And they are not required to carry malpractice insurance.
- “All trademark information you submit to the USPTO… will become public record.”
- Meaning: If you include your phone number, address, or email address as part of your trademark application, you can expect that you will receive unsolicited correspondence, some of which contain scams. It is advisable to omit you home address, you phone number, and your regular email — but only if you have sufficient plan for receiving the important correspondence from the USPTO. [NOTE: We use a special email address just for USPTO correspondence, we have made sure that USPTO emails are not blocked by our spam filter, and we have used the same PO Box for 10 years so avoid any mailing problems from the USPTO or the post office. We have also developed our own software that checks the status of each client application file daily so that can track the status and deadlines even if an email or letter from the USPTO goes missing.]
Here is the full text of the warning from the USPTO website:
Filing a trademark application is a legal proceeding that requires you to satisfy many legal requirements within strict time deadlines, all based on Eastern Standard Time. Click here for more information BEFORE you begin this process.
Only licensed attorneys may represent you before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). If you hire someone to represent you, he or she must be an attorney licensed to practice law in a U.S. state and be a member in good standing of the highest court of that state. Attorneys from other countries, except certain Canadian attorneys and agents representing Canadian filers, may NOT practice before the USPTO. See Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure Sections 602 and 608 for more details.
All trademark information you submit to the USPTO, including any information you enter in the electronic forms, will become public record and will be viewable by the public in the USPTO’s on-line databases and through search engines and other trademark databases, including your phone number, e-mail address, and street address. Do not submit personal identifying information that is NOT required for a filing, such as a social security number or driver’s license number. Also, to maintain confidentiality of banking or credit card information, only enter payment information in the secure portion of the site after validating your form; do not enter a credit card number or other payment information anywhere else on a TEAS form.
NOTE: Some filings made through TEAS are NOT uploaded immediately into the USTPO’s Trademark Document Retrieval (TDR) system. Instead, it may take approximately seven (7) calendar days for the upload. If that amount of time has passed and your filing is still not appearing, please e-mail TDR@uspto.gov.