Discover if you are required to hire an attorney and why you should hire an attorney, even if you are not required to.
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Am I required to hire a U.S.-licensed attorney to represent me at the USPTO?
It depends on the location of your domicile (your permanent legal residence or principal place of business).
- Yes, if you are a foreign-domiciled trademark applicant, registrant, or party to Trademark Trial and Appeal Board proceedings. You must be represented at the USPTO by an attorney who is licensed to practice law in the United States.
- No, if you are a trademark applicant, registrant, or party domiciled in the United States or its territories. Nevertheless, we strongly encourage you to hire a U.S.-licensed attorney who specializes in trademark law to guide you through the registration process.
For more information about this, see the spring 2019 USPTO trademark rules change.
What can an attorney do for me?
Why must my attorney be licensed to practice law in the United States?
Our regulations specify that only an attorney who is an active member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of any U.S. state or territory can represent you in a trademark application, registration, or TTAB proceeding at the USPTO. Non-U.S.-licensed attorneys and non-attorneys do not meet this criteria and cannot represent you in a trademark matter at the USPTO.
Non-U.S.-licensed attorneys and non-attorneys may give you inaccurate information and legal advice about your trademark rights and the registration process in the United States. This could:
- Jeopardize the legal validity of your application or registration
- Prolong the time it takes for your application- or registration-related submission to be examined
- Cause your application to be rejected or abandoned or your registration to be cancelled.
U.S. trademark law and USPTO regulations must be followed because they govern the trademark registration process before the USPTO, proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, and the conduct of attorneys who practice before the USPTO.
We take the unauthorized practice of trademark law very seriously. Your trademark submission can be rejected, or the legal validity of your trademark registration could be jeopardized, if you take advice or receive assistance from someone who is not authorized to practice law before the USPTO.
We also take very seriously the competency and conduct of attorneys who practice before the USPTO. All attorneys who practice before us are subject to our disciplinary jurisdiction and must abide by the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct. These require that the attorney:
- Has the knowledge and skill to competently represent you
- Consults with you and keeps you informed about the status of your trademark matter
- Does not make false statements of fact or law to the USPTO.
The USPTO's Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) handles allegations of misconduct by attorneys.
How do I find a U.S.-licensed trademark attorney?
To find an attorney who can represent you before the USPTO in trademark matters, you can consult U.S. telephone listings or the internet, or contact the attorney referral service of a U.S. state or local bar association (see the American Bar Association's Consumers' Guide to Legal Help).
Make sure that the attorney you hire has experience prosecuting trademark applications at the USPTO and handling proceedings before the TTAB. The USPTO cannot help you select an attorney or recommend one.
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