Saturday, December 19, 2009

Trademark Public Advisory Committee (TPAC) Issues its 2009 Annual Report

The Trademark Public Advisory Committee of the USPTO (TPAC) has issued its annual report for Fiscal Year 2oo9. (pdf here). According to TPAC, " this report does two things: (i) it reports on the performance aspects of the USPTO that the TPAC enabling statute requires be addressed, with an emphasis on the performance issues that are of greatest interest to the trademark community, and (ii) it reports on the status of issues TPAC is championing or has championed during FY 2009."

Here are some interesting tidbits from the report:

  • In FY 2009, for the first time in seven years, the number of trademark applications decreased, going from 401,392 classes in FY 2008 to an Annualized Total of 351,348 as of July 31, 2009. This is a reduction of approximately 12 percent. (p. 5).

  • The increase in FY 2009 registrations was lower, 8.2 percent, which likely indicates that in the slowing economy a larger-than-usual percentage of applicants chose to abandon their applications. (p.6).

  • The TTAB has significantly decreased the time it takes to issue decisions:

    • •In FY 2008, the average pendency of contested motions was 17.8 weeks. In FY 2009, that average decreased to 6.9 weeks.
    • •The pendency of final decisions was reduced from 11.7 weeks in FY 2008 to 6.6 weeks in FY 2009.
    • •Average pendency of appeals (from final decisions of Examining Attorneys), measured from appeal filing to decision, decreased from 53 weeks in FY 2008 to 44 weeks in FY 2009. (p. 22).

  • New TTAB filings are down compared to FY 2008: new appeals are down 13.5%, new oppositions are down 21.4%, and new cancellation proceedings are down 15.5%. The number of cases maturing in FY 2009 for a final decision on the merits was virtually the same as FY 2008. The number of final decisions issued in FY 2009 decreased by 11.9% due to the assignment of half of the TTAB judges to work on revisions to the Trademark Board Manual of Proceduree. In addition, the number of decisions on contested motions decreased slightly (by 1.5%) due to the assignment of interlocutory attorneys to work on TBMP revisions. (pp. 22-23).

  • TPAC has been tracking the issue of fraud because of the concern of some TPAC members that the Medinol standard for proving fraud was too low. TPAC must now assess whether any action in this area should be taken in the wake of Bose. The USPTO is particularly interested in finding ways to decrease the number of applications which include multiple pages of goods because of concerns that the applicant may not in fact have a bona fide intent to use the mark on so many goods. (p. 26).

  • The TTAB anticipates completion, approval and posting of the revised TBMP on the USPTO website in FY 2010. When the TBMP text is completed and approved, it will be posted in HTML. (p. 26).


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