USPTO Establishes Database of Official Insignia of Native American Tribes

Press Release

Kim Byars

The Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced today the establishment of a database to record the official insignia of federally and state-recognized Native American tribes. The USPTO will begin accepting requests on August 31, 2001.

The database, recommended in a report required by the Trademark Law Treaty Implementation Act, will assist the agency in reviewing trademark applications. This database is available at the USPTO's website, as part of the USPTO's internationally accessible Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), at

The database of official insignia of Native American tribes will be included, for informational purposes, within the USPTO's database of material that is not registered but is searched to make determinations regarding the registrability of marks. Inclusion of official insignia in this database will ensure that an examining attorney, who is searching a mark that is confusingly similar to an official insignia will find and consider the official insignia before making a determination of registrability. The USPTO will use recorded official insignia as evidence of what a federally or state-recognized tribe considers to be its official insignia.

"We asked ourselves 'What changes can the USPTO make to better protect the rights of Native Americans and to preserve the integrity of each tribal nation?' What better way than by using our trademark database to give world-wide publicity to the official insignia notified by the tribal nations themselves?" said Commissioner for Trademarks, Anne Chasser.

USPTO administers patent and trademark laws protecting intellectual property and rewarding individual effort. Intellectual property is a potent force in the competitive free enterprise system. By protecting intellectual endeavors and encouraging technological progress, USPTO seeks to preserve the United States' technological edge, which is a key to our current and future competitiveness. USPTO also disseminates patent and trademark information that promotes an understanding of intellectual property protection and facilitates the development and sharing of new technologies worldwide.

Over 6 million patents have been issued since the first patent in 1790 and more than 2.3 million trademarks have been registered since the first in 1870. Last year USPTO issued 182,223 patents and registered 127,794 trademarks.