Public Meeting: Continuing Legal Education Programs on Trademark Policing Measures and Tactics

USPTO Headquarters. Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Summary of Meeting

Commissioner Debbie Cohn moderated the meeting. Ms. Cohn explained that the meeting was the result of the 2011 Trademark Litigation Study recommendations sent to Congress, and that the purpose was to discuss educational programs focused on trademark policing measures and tactics. A number of user groups were represented in the meeting, including individual practitioners, the Trademark Public Advisory Committee, American Intellectual Property Law Association, American Bar Association, International Trademark Association, and the California State Bar Association.

Participants stated that both bar associations and Intellectual Property (IP) associations to the IP bar currently provide continuing legal education focused on trademark policing measures and tactics to their members. In addition, a wide variety of information on trademark issues is available to practitioners through association and bar websites. Participants noted that access to such programs and trademark content is generally limited to members, and therefore may be unavailable to other important audiences who could benefit from the information, such as general practitioners and the business and entrepreneurial communities.

Participants suggested that the outreach and education recommended by the study should (i) focus on trademark fundamentals in addition to policing measures and tactics, and (ii) target an audience beyond the trademark bar to include the general bar, the small business community, the entrepreneurial community, and students. Although various groups throughout the country provide pro bono programs, a targeted IP pro bono program may not be available in every jurisdiction.

Next steps:

* Participants to consider the topic further and send ideas to the USPTO.

* USPTO to review ideas and work with groups to coordinate further efforts.

* Explore collaboration with and among groups to develop (i) non-proprietary training materials for practitioner use in making presentations on trademark issues and (ii) informational materials for non-practitioners focusing on trademark basics and enforcement considerations, including the proper handling of a cease and desist letter. Participants noted that the materials should consider not only the perspective of bar groups but also of small businesses.

* Investigate methods to improve the visibility of the USPTO website on search engines so that those searching for basic information about trademarks can more readily locate it.

* Explore ways to provide trademark informational seminars, such as those presented by the USPTO at the National Trademark Expo, to broader audiences around the country, such as by partnering with state and local chambers of commerce, and perhaps using Patent and Trademark Resource Centers, public libraries, or webinars.

* Consider content addressing trademarks and domain names and investigate an international cross-branding effort, perhaps looking at IP awareness campaigns as a model.

* Work with IP bar associations on providing access to information regarding pro bono programs.

* Work with state bar associations on the need for and creation of pro bono IP programs.

* Consider the California IP bar's outreach efforts as a potential model for outreach.