TPAC (Trademark Public Advisory Committee) recently released its annual report from the last Fiscal Year. The full report can be found at https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/TPAC_2019_Annual_Report.pdf

Here is a summary of what I believe to bey the key items in the report, along with a few commentss:

  • “Trademark application filings increased by 5.4% in FY 2019, which was 0.7% less than Trademark Operations originally projected. Trademark Operations initially estimated it would receive 678,000 classes for registration in FY 2019. Midyear, the expected projection for filings was revised to 646,000 classes reflecting the shifting economic indicators and weak first quarter results. The actual number of classes filed in FY 2019 was 673,233.”
  • “More than 11% of total classes filed came from China, the largest share of filings from any foreign country. This represents an increase of more than 1,100% over the past six years, far outpacing growth from any other country.”
  • The Office exceeded its goals for Exceptional Office Actions (54.5%) and general Office Action compliance.
    • I find these numbers staggering, as – even regardless of disagreements about substantive issues  in many refusals – many Office Actions are poorly written and unclear. Many have mistakes. And all of them are hard to read and poorly formatted.
  • Post-registration maintenance filing audits: “As of October 1, 2019, in 62% of the audited registrations, either a response deleting goods or services was filed or the entire registration was canceled. In those files, 78% of the registrants were
    represented by an attorney and 22% percent were pro se.”
  • A project to create a database of trademark filing specimens is. “is underway and the Office expects to begin beta testing in late 2019”
    • There are few details on how it this database will work, and whether it will be available to the public.
  • IT:
    • “The USPTO also employed new outside consultants to evaluate its overall IT program and processes.”
    • “Despite the challenges, TPAC is encouraged that the USPTO is committed to providing a mature IT product to all of its end-users. TPAC is cautiously optimistic that continuing changes and improvements will be made and the new way of thinking about the problems will result in significant progress.”
    • “$204.8M of trademark user fees were invested in TMNG through August 2019 since the project began in FY 2011.”
  • Funding:
    • “Total trademark fees collected in FY 2019 were $344 million, representing an increase of 4.5% over collections in FY 2018.”
    • “Total spending was $350 million, resulting in $130.7 million projected to be available in the Operating Reserve at the beginning of FY 2020”
  • Proposed fee adjustments:
    • “TPAC commends the due diligence of the Trademark Operations team in reviewing and
      assessing the need for adjustments to the fee schedule.”
    • “Following public feedback and comments, the USPTO plans to implement changes by August 2020”
    • USPTO’s Financial Advisory Board: “The revalidated FY 2020 plans and the FY 2021 OMB budget request are based on a less positive financial outlook with a lower expectation for filing increases. As a result, without an increase in trademark fees, revenues and operating reserves are insufficient to fund planned hiring and spending requests considering the increase in planned IT investments in critical legacy system fixes, enhancements and new systems development.”
      • I’m still waiting for more explanation of why the additional revenue is needed and where the funds will go.
  • TTAB:
    • “the TTAB struggled with most of its performance measures, particularly in the second half of FY 2019 as caseloads increased”
  • Retirement of Commissioner Denison: “Finally, our fabulous Commissioner for Trademarks, Mary Boney Denison, announced that she will retire at the end of this calendar year. Commissioner Denison has ably led the Trademark Operations of the Office through a period of explosive growth and change, and her contributions to the Office and TPAC have been immeasurable. Please join us in congratulating Commissioner Denison on her many years of outstanding service.”

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