TTABlog Says: It's Time to Tackle the "Trademark Trolls"
Patent lawyers and patent law reformers are upset at what they call "patent trolls" -- individuals or companies that take improper advantage of the patent system. A patent troll is someone who obtains a patent for the purpose of suing or threatening to sue others -- and not for purposes of commercializing the patented invention -- in order to extract money from the defendant/victim either via a license agreement or litigation settlement.
But what about the trademark system? It has its own "trademark trolls" who take improper advantage of the system by filing groundless requests for extension of time to oppose (now facilitated by ESTTA), or by filing opposition or cancellation proceedings, or by suing or threatening to sue legitimate applicants and owners. A patent troll at least has to get its hands on an issued patent; a trademark troll need only claim common law rights in a supposed "mark" in order to make its threats.
Isn't it time for trademark practitioners to demand that the USPTO and the TTAB crack down on these practices? I suggest that your complaints be sent to the USPTO, the TTAB, and/or the Trademark Public Advisory Committee (TPAC). [The members of TPAC are listed at page 3 of its 2005 Annual Report.]
Text Copyright John L. Welch 2006.