US Trademark Fees Reduced

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On January 17, 2015 the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will reduce their filing fees.  Specifically, the TEAS (Trademark Electronic Application System) Plus filing fee drops from $275 to $225, the TEAS (now called, the TEAS RF (Reduced Fee)) falls from $325 to $275, and the paper filing (TEAS Regular) goes from $375 to $325.  In addition, the trademark renewal fee drops from $400 to $300 (this filing is due on the the tenth anniversary of a trademark registration, and every ten years thereafter).

The fees are getting reduced because of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) and for the purpose of encouraging individuals to file applications online.  As indicated in the comments of the Federal Register Rules and Regulations, the change will help “increase the volume of end-to-end electronic processing of trademark applications…[and] will make filing for individuals and smaller entities more accessible.”

The main change from the AIA is a reduction in filing and renewal fees, while the requirements for the filings primarily remain in tact.

Filing a TEAS Plus Application = now $225
In order to qualify under a TEAS Plus application the applicant needs to:

  1. Provide name, address, and email (and allow the Office to contact you via email);
  2. Respond to the Office electronically (through TEAS);
  3. Use a description of your goods/services that complies with the Office’s Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual;
  4. If the mark identifies a person’s name, a signed authorization from the person to use that name;
  5. If including a design, a .jpg of the mark; and
  6. If non-english, a translation.
    (There are a few others, but these are the main requirements)

Filing a TEAS RF Application = now $275
This type of application does not require the above clarifications. In addition, you may list the goods/services under your own description. However, an Examining Attorney may require you to be more specific with your description in a future Office action.  This type of filing simply requires the following:

  1. Provide name, address, and email (and allow the Office to contact you via email); and
  2. Responses regarding the application must be submitted electronically through TEAS

Filing Regular TEAS Application = now $325
Don’t do it. This type of application is submitted via fillable forms that you mail in. Either of the two applications above are better options.  The TEAS Plus or the TEAS RF applications will most likely be processed quicker, you’ll receive notices via email rather than snail mail, and you can respond electronically.  A Regular TEAS filing is antiquated and represents the primary reason behind the reduced fees in the first place. Help America, don’t file a Regular TEAS application.

If you’d like more information regarding the reduced fees the USPTO provides a nice summary page on their website.

If you would like a trademark attorney to handle your registration use OnlineTrademarkAttorneys.com.  You can simply fill out our online form for trademark registration for assistance. Published January 9, 2015 by Brent Sausser.

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Washington Redskins Lose Trademarks

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Today the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board made history when it decided to cancel six Washington Redskin trademarks as disparaging to Native Americans.  So what does this mean?

Well for starters, this does not mean the Washington Redskins cannot keep using their name.  In the U.S. it is not mandatory that you have a federally registered trademark to have rights to use a name.  This decision also does not mean the Washington Redskins cannot appeal the decision.  The TTAB has indicated it will not enforce the cancellations until after there has been an opportunity for the owners to appeal the decision.  In fact, last time the TTAB tried to cancel the trademarks, a federal judge overturned the decision based on the fact the name was not disparaging at the time of registration.

So what does this TTAB decision mean?  Well if successful, cancellation of the Washington Redskins marks means that the league will have a far more difficult time protecting its mark against unauthorized use in court.  In other words, it does not mean that the league’s owners cannot successfully protect the mark in court; it just means that it will be more difficult to prove in court that it has rights to the name to the exclusion of others.  Ultimately, the famous status of the Washington Redskins mark will probably prevent the unauthorized use of the mark by others without legitimate threats of litigation from the league’s owners.  Thus, it is not advisable to start using the mark without a valid license from the Washington Redskins unless you want a lawsuit on your hands.

At the end of the day, the future of the Washington Redskins name is uncertain.  Although this decision does not prevent use by the league of the name at this time, it does lead the way for future court decisions and/or laws that could force the league to change its name.  You also have to consider from a marketing standpoint that the negative press might also push the team to have no choice to change the name.

Finally, this decision should not undermine the importance of a trademark to a business.  Although the Washington Redskins can still continue use of their name, enforcement of its rights to the name will be an up-hill battle.  Ownership of federally registered trademarks is immensely important to a company and the decision to cancel these six trademarks is no doubt a huge blow to the future of the league’s name.

Curious to see more legal analysis on the Washington Redskin trademark issue?  Visit our past blog post The New Name of the Washington Redskins NFL Team.

For more information about trademarks, or if you need help with a trademark, please visit our website at www.OnlineTrademarkAttorneys.com.

What is a Generic Trademark?

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Everyone knows what an escalator is. The word escalator is a term used to describe a moving staircase. But what many people don’t know is that back in the 1940s, the word “ESCALATOR” was a trademarked name owned by the Otis Elevator Company.  That meant the term could not be used in the general sense to describe a moving staircase and was intended to identify the source of a particular type of moving staircase manufactured by Otis. However, this changed when in the landmark case Haughton Elevator Co. v. Seeberger, the court concluded the word “ESCALATOR” constituted a generic term for a moving staircase, thereby extinguishing the term’s original trademark status.

A trademark is rendered generic when the trademark is used to identify the actual product or service as a whole rather than identification of the source of the product or service.  In other words, a mark becomes “genericized” when it is used by the general public as a generic verb, which identifies a class of certain products or services. Other examples of famous “genericized” trademarks include zipper, aspirin, kerosene, Philips-head screw, yo-yo and thermos.

In recent times, Google is a great example of a company undertaking extensive efforts to prevent their name from becoming genericized.  As a search engine, Google offers online-based searches that you can also find on Yahoo or Bing.  However, because of Google’s dominating presence in the business of search engines the public has started using the term Google to identify all search engines, not just Google’s search engine. Although from a marketing standpoint such substantial use of the name is good news for Google, Google also does not want the term to become a generic trademark, as this would allow anyone to commercially exploit it. To see more of a discussion regarding use of Google as a verb, see Wikipedia’s discussion.

Also, check out an example of CHANEL taking action to prevent their mark from becoming genericized.

For more information about generic trademarks or registering your trademark, please visit our website at www.onlinetrademarkattorneys.com.

Published April 24, 2013 by Alex Spurr.

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