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:
USPTO Director Michelle Lee visited at the of the meeting to address the committee. The meeting also marked the end of the TPAC term of three members of the committee: Deborah Hampton, Bill Barber, and Ann Chasser.
Legislative Update – Dana Colarulli (Director, Office of Governmental Affairs)
- There has been a lot of activity on the hill lately for IP.
- Trade Secret legislation was signed by the President on May 11, 2016.
- There is pending legislation related to the ‘Patents for Humanity’ program.
- There was a celebration on the hill on Sept. 14, 2016 celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Lanham Act.
- Director Lee testified in an oversight hearing on Sept. 13, 2016. Video below:
International Policy – Shira Perlmutter and Amy Cotton
- Ms. Perlmutter gave a presentation regarding the possible trademark implications of the European Union “Brexit.” Much is still unknown and multiple exit scenarios exist. The exit will have ramifications for registration and for enforcement in England and the EU.
- Ms. Cotton gave a presentation regarding a TM5 project to develop a taxonomy and hierarchy for all goods and services. This could include US identifications and affect international filings and foreign applicants/registrations filing in the US. The USPTO intends to circulate a survey in the future regarding some of the issues involved.
Trademark Operations – Commissioner Mary Boney Dennison
- Filings in FY2016 are up over 5%
- There are currently more than 500 examining attorneys
- 22 new examiners will begin on 10/31.
- New examiner groups will likely be hired in the winter and in the spring
- Deloitte was contracted by the USPTO trademark operation to review customer service. Their report has been finalized and the USPTO will launch some new initiatives as result in the near future.
- The fee changes proposed earlier in the year should be published in a final rulemaking soon with implementation in January 2017.
- A final rulemaking regarding the proof of use requirements for Section 8 filings will be issued shortly.
- An update to the declaration format for online filings is planned for early 2017.
- The USPTO is considering a limited expungement proceeding to help eliminate deadwood on the register and is currently working with user groups to develop proposals.
- The USPTO website, as a result of a TM5 project, now includes common status descriptor icons that all TM5 offices will be using.
- The Trademark Expo will be in DC on October 21 and 22 at the Mellon Auditorium.
USPTO Budge Update – Frank Murphy (Deputy Chief Financial Officer)
- USPTO expects to begin FY2017 under a Continuing Resolution
Trademark Trial and Appeal Board – Chief Administrative Trademark Judge Gerard Rogers
- The latest TTAB pendency statistics were reviewed (see slides), showing that pendency times in general continue to decrease.
- New proceeding filings at the TTAB are up considerable in FY2016, including Notice of Opposition filings up 11%.
- New TTAB Judge Christopher Larkin begins work this week.
- The TTAB rulemaking package will be issued this month, with an effective date of January 14, 2017.
- The new rules will apply to all cases, with judges having discretion where needed in applying them to pre-existing cases.
- Judge Rogers noted that the new rules retain the Board processes considered significant by the Supreme Court last year in B&B Hardware.
OCIO / TMNGUpdate – Raj Dolas
- New trademark examining attorneys are beta testing the new Examiner computer systems.
- my.uspto.gov is live now for users.
- Users create a login and create their own home page choosing from a variety of widgets.
- Widgets include adding application/registration numbers to view current status, and a function to create an automated search of the Official Gazette.
- TPAC members expressed interest in seeing the development of TTAB and Assignments widgets.
The next TPAC meeting is scheduled for January 13, 2017.