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.

Trademark Public Advisory Committee meeting slides | Feb. 12, 2016 by Erik Pelton


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