Last Friday I attended the quarterly public meeting of the USPTO’s Trademark Public Advisory Committee.The following is summary of the key items discussed.

Legislative Update (by Dana Colarulli)

  • With the new Congress, there has been lots of hill activity
  • TPAC was included in the recent AIA technical corrections legislation – the change gives TPAC more flexibility in appointment terms
  • Expecting the USPTO to testify in April in oversight hearing

Trademark Operations Update (by Commissioner Deborah Cohn)

  • The percentage of “Excellent Office Actions” continues to be at an excellent level
  • Trademark Operations received a “gold medal” from the Department of Commerce recently for the “Excellent Office Program” for providing a better customer experience
  • 78% of applications are handled entirely electronically
  • Comments on filing fee changes are being reviewed and a proposal will be forthcoming
  • Filing increase in FY2013 thus far is on par with expectations
  • 30 new Examining Attorneys were hired recently; 16 just began working and 14 more will begin in a few weeks
  • Examination pendency is on target
  • Comments received regarding possible shortening of Section 8 timing were largely negative; the possibility is on hold for now, pending results and data from the Section 8 specimen 2 year pilot that is underway
  • TSDR is going to be enhanced today (ed. note: not sure if enhancements are live yet)
  • TEAS was upgraded and enhanced recently
  • A few ID manual changes are upcoming, including a way to check in TEAS applications whether the IDs are in the approved manual
  • USPTO has reached out to stakeholder groups to get input on several complicated industry specific ID areas
  • USPTO has held roundtables in multiple cities recently with INTA member groups
  • WIPO Global Brands Database was recently launched; includes USPTO searches
  • TMEP updates: next one will be in April
  • Official Gazette no longer distributed in print; enhanced electronic OG will be testing soon and hopefully completed by the end of the fiscal year; USPTO sought input from user groups

OCIO Update (Marcie Levett (filling in for John Owens)  / Raj Dolas (project director TMNG)

  • Added capability for new application serial numbers beginning with ’86’
  • Many ‘Trademarks Next Generation’ (TMNG) projects ongoing

International and Policy Update (Sharon Marsh)

  • Post-registration specimen pilot project underway; about 450 (out of 500) office actions have been sent so far; registrants have 6 months to respond
    • Hopefully will have some data to report by end of the year
  • Four countries have recently become members of Madrid Protocol; USPTO has worked with them to provide assistance

CFO Update (Tony Scardino)

  •  AIA technical collections act confirmed that there is a “Trademark Fence” – a statutory prohibition on spending Trademark related revenues on non-Trademark operation
  • Revenue is slightly below estimate, spending is slightly above expected; TM operating reserve of $126 million, and is fully sufficient to cover it
  • current continuing resolution for budget ends March 27th
  • FY2014 budget plans and process are under way

TTAB Update (Chief Judge Gerard Rogers)

  • Recent staffing increases: 4 new judges, 3 new staff attorneys, a lead paralegal
  • TTAB webpage just updated, now includes section with “Stakeholder Outreach” information and links
  • Continuing efforts to enhance and improve the ‘TTAB Dashboard’; working to collect more information going forward
  • Number of cases operating under the old rules is down to about 150
  • Filings of new proceedings at the TTAB are mostly up slightly

Next meeting – Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

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