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Wednesday Jun 23, 2021

What a huge surge in trademark filings means for applicants

Guest blog by David Gooder, Commissioner for Trademarks

Registered trademark symbol

Since last fall, trademark applications from U.S. and foreign applicants have surged to unprecedented levels. As of June 17, the increase is roughly 63% over last year, which translates to about 211,000 more applications. And in December 2020 alone, the USPTO received 92,608 trademark applications, an increase of 172% over December 2019. This surge has doubled the number of applications waiting to be examined and increased waiting times at various stages in our processes. As a result, applicants may have to wait longer for initial processing of their application, receiving an office action, processing of responses to office actions, and reviewing of post-registration filings. For updated information and current processing times, please visit the Trademarks Dashboard page of the USPTO website.

We are continuing to explore the reasons behind the surge, but we do know that the increase comes from both foreign and domestic filings and is caused in part by an increase in e-commerce during the pandemic. For our customers, the bottom line is that applications are coming in faster than we have historically been able to examine them, and the backlog is increasing. We are keenly aware of this challenge and have taken steps to increase productivity, while maintaining the high quality our applicants expect.

For example, we’re implementing information technology solutions and system enhancements to process applications even faster. In addition, we've hired more examining attorneys and staff, we're finding better ways to distribute the workload among our current attorneys and staff, and we’re looking at every step in the examination process to find ways to increase efficiency. Through these and other actions, we will eventually bring our processing times back to customary levels.

If you have questions about this issue, or suggestions for us to consider, we welcome your feedback at TMFeedback@uspto.gov.

Comments:

It could also be in part due to the flurry of trademark enforcement activity both in Federal courts against large numbers of online resellers and at large online retailers such as Amazon and eBay against individual online resellers. The relative ease with which such enforcement activities can be carried out may be encouraging others to do the same, as well as inspiring others to register their own rights as a way to possibly defend themselves when attacked.

Posted by Andrew Fortney on June 23, 2021 at 01:57 PM EDT #

You should really stop allowing China to acquire all the ridiculous trademarks that you are allowing. They are generic and have been in use for a decade or more on Etsy. So how can they now claim Them all for themselves? Maybe because this is just another way for govt to make a buck?

Posted by julie mazzaferro on June 23, 2021 at 04:25 PM EDT #

Most likely a reason is Brand Registry on Amazon, their Accelerated IP program. Also, China based companies trademarking anything popular or common phrases to corner the market and issue takedowns later once TM is approved. This is hurting small businesses in the US! I hope you teach your examining attorneys that just slapping the phrase onto a box or packaging doesn't make it a legit brand. Majority of them are providing false specimens with any piece of jewelry for example and the mark/phrase on the packaging making it look like they are a "brand" when they are purely sold as ornamental. Many show the applied-for mark as used on the specimen of record is merely a decorative or ornamental feature of the goods and, thus, does not function as a trademark to indicate the source of applicant’s goods and to identify and distinguish them from others.

Posted by Pamela on June 23, 2021 at 04:40 PM EDT #

A lot of the trademark applications are coming from the fake trademark websites, such as the ones where the owners were all arrested in Pakistan -- which advertise on the sites as being located in San Jose, CA, and other places.https://www.worldtrademarkreview.com/governmentpolicy/uspto-urged-set-task-force-address-scams-following-massive-pakistan-fraud-case

Posted by Susan Basko on June 25, 2021 at 01:49 PM EDT #

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