The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently announced implementation of the Trademark Modernization Act of 2020 (TMA). As noted within the title, the rule allows for the agency to update its trademark process. Three specific things that every entrepreneur and business should know about this new rule include the following:
- New procedures. In the past, those who wished to challenge a trademark used the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board process. The TMA allows for two new procedures to cancel illegitimate trademarks or service marks. We will discuss these new procedures, expungement and reexamination, in more detail in a future post.
- Adjusted timeline. The USPTO is cutting down on its timeline. Although this can expedite the process it can also mean the individual or business applying for trademark protections has less time to respond to a USPTO request. These deadlines are important, as a failure to meet the deadline can result in the USPTO abandoning the application.
- Implementation date. The rule went into effect December 18, 2021. As a result, entrepreneurs and businesses looking to move forward with trademark protection measures are wise to review the impact of the new rule.
Commenters voiced concern about the potential for abuse of the reexamination or expungement option. The agency has stated it will use a wait and see approach. As a result, it has not yet placed a limitation on the number of petitions allowed but will review in the future if needed. As noted within the agency’s announcement, the USPTO is hopeful the rule will lead to more efficient operations.