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Update on Global Trademark Harmonization
Guest blog by Commissioner for Trademarks Mary Denison
In late May, I attended the TM5 mid-term meeting in Barcelona hosted by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The TM5 is a strategic cooperation group of the five largest trademark offices in the world including the USPTO, EUIPO, China (SAIC), Japan (JPO), and Korea (KIPO). I gave a blog update last year on the TM5 meeting we hosted at the USPTO, and I’m happy to report we have continued making headway this year towards global trademark harmonization.
The TM5 seeks to facilitate and harmonize trademark filings within its members, as well as other trademark offices around the world. The work of the TM5 is structured through cooperative projects designed to improve users’ interactions with national trademark offices and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). These projects include, among others, the Common Status Descriptors project, the Identification project, and the Indexing of Non-Traditional Marks project.
Common Status Descriptors (CSD)
The CSD Project is designed to assist trademark owners and other interested parties in understanding the status of their applications and registrations in other offices, whether or not they understand the language, by using icons and common terms. In the past, partners have used terms to describe the status of applications and registrations that may be confusing to users outside their country or may not have been understandable without knowledge of the local language. While partners will continue to use terminology specific to their offices, they have now agreed to implement a series of Common Status Descriptors which will use icons and a second set of terms common to all of the partners.
CSDs for Live Application/Published for Opposition and Dead Registration/Expired
These icons and common terms were implemented by the USPTO in 2015 and have now been implemented by EUIPO, JPO, and SAIC. KIPO plans to implement the icons and common terms by the end of calendar year 2017. View all icons and common terms.
Identification Project (ID Project)
For global trademark filers, one bottleneck in applying in multiple jurisdictions has been the differing national practices in accepted application wording to identify the goods and services on which a mark will be used. To attempt to alleviate that bottleneck, the USPTO used the success of the U.S. ID Manual as an inspiration to create a harmonized TM5 ID List. To date the TM5 partners have agreed on more than 17,000 terms they will all accept. Applicants can determine whether a good or service has been agreed upon by the TM5 members by consulting the USPTO’s Manual of Acceptable Goods and Services. For example, if you search for the term “golf shoes,” you will see it is marked with a “T” meaning that it acceptable to all TM5 members.
The USPTO has also solicited participation in the project from a number of countries outside the TM5 members, and we are delighted to report that Colombia, Chile, Mexico, and Singapore have now each accepted more than 10,000 terms. Other current participants include Canada, the Philippines, and the Russian Federation, and we are seeking participation from a number of additional countries throughout the world.
Indexing of Non-Traditional Marks Project (INTM Project)
Non-traditional marks include three-dimensional, sound, single color, tactile, holographic, scent, movement marks, and more—basically all marks that include elements other than character data (words, letters, numerals, etc.) and designs. Trademark professionals have long acknowledged the difficulty in searching for non-traditional marks in the United States and around the world. Most national offices use the WIPO Vienna Classification System, or some variation thereof, to index the design elements in a trademark application. That system does not provide specific codes to index the elements of a non-traditional mark. The TM5’s INTM Project is designed to improve and potentially harmonize the TM5 Partners’ methods of searching for non-traditional trademarks.
We have worked to identify which member countries accept which types of non-traditional marks, and next we will determine how they index them. Once we have that information, the TM5 will move forward to determine best practices, with the potential for agreeing to a common standard amongst the TM5 and perhaps other national offices.
The USPTO is proud to play an important part in facilitating and harmonizing trademark filings throughout the world. The projects that USPTO is leading, along with other projects led by the other TM5 member countries, will contribute to a more streamlined global trademark system going forward.