Monday, November 28, 2016

Trademarks in the Trump Era



Donald Trump is promising to make the economy grow by, among other things, loosening regulation and lowering taxes. This may sound like music to the ears of many business people. From the trademark perspective, if Trump succeeds in spurring economic growth, it could lead to a raft of new ventures and therefore a significant increase in the number of new trademarks being brought to market and new trademark applications being filed with the USPTO. 

In today’s crowded marketplace it is already tough to find an available trademark that sends the right message about your product or service. With more businesses starting up in the hoped-for Trumpian boom, it will get that much tougher. Good trademark clearance procedures will continue to be your best defense against adopting and using a trademark that could wind up causing you legal problems.  Nobody in business is going to complain if the economy improves. But clearing trademarks may become even more difficult. The recommendation remains the same, and will be even more important as time goes on: Clear all new trademarks via a comprehensive trademark search with attorney opinion letter as the first step in your new product or service launch. Before you call the printer, before you start working on marketing plans – call your trademark attorney!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

USPTO Announces Pilot Program to Allow Amendments to Identifications of Goods and Services

It will now be possible in limited circumstances to amend the goods / services identification in your registered trademark to include goods or services beyond the original scope if "necessary because evolving  technology has changed the manner or medium by which the underlying content or subject matter of the identified products and services are offered for sale or provided to consumers."  This is a big deal because it means that trademark owners potentially can amend their existing registrations to cover new technology, rather than needing to go through the more expensive and drawn out process of filing a completely new trademark application to cover the technologically new method of product or service delivery.  To make such an amendment a petition to the Director will be required. For more information see
www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Technology_Evolution_Pilot_Program.docx  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

El Donald's new Trademark Filing

El Donald has recently applied to register the  hysterical MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN slogan for "Clothing, namely, sweatshirts, T-shirts, tank tops, long sleeve shirts; headwear, namely, caps and hats; baby clothing, namely, one piece garments; children's clothing, namely, t-shirts."  Sounds like somebody smells money after all the free publicity. Ka-Ching!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Trademark solicitations made to appear like official correspondence

If you are a trademark owner with a registered mark or even a pending application you have probably received at least one official looking mysterious letter written in somewhat arcane language quoting a price - often quite a steep one - for a vaguely worded service.  These letters (and sometimes emails) come from companies with important sounding names such as U.S. Trademark Compliance Office, Patent and Trademark Bureau, and unbelievably, even Patent & Trademark Office. You can see a list  (by no means exhaustive) of some of these providers of entertaining correspondence here:       http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-getting-started/non-uspto-solicitations

As a trademark attorney, I usually hear about these wonderful organizations when a client of mine has received one of their offers (or should I say when a client of mine has been targeted).  The client will often forward the correspondence to me asking whether it is legit or a scam. My reply usually involves advice that the client file the letter in the wastebasket. 

This is what happened this morning, when I heard from a client who had received a letter from the incredibly important sounding Patent & Trademark Office.  Coincidentally, the U.S. operates a government agency known as the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Imagine that! You have to wonder if the good people sending out the letters from Patent & Trademark Office are aware that the name they are using is very confusingly similar to the U.S. government agency that actually registers trademarks. The solicitation my client received (redacted):