USPTO Fee Changes

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USPTO – United States Patent and Trademark Office

Trademark Search. Trademarks.

 Trademark Applications. USPTO

Many people are probably not aware that the United States Patent and Trademark Office is not funded by taxpayer money, rather, it is entirely funded by fees paid by patent and trademark holders. When more funds are needed for the vast array of services provided by the USPTO, fees must inevitably go up.  Therefore, it’s not surprising that the USPTO has increased service and processing fees on 42 specific trademark filings, starting January 14, 2017.

In effort to drive users towards electronic filing, the largest fee increases are on paper filings. For example:

The per-class fee for paper filing has increased to $600 from $375 for an initial filing, with increases ranging from $75 to $200 on other applicable per-class fees.

Other increases include fees for paper filings to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. This includes 6 fees for initiating proceedings, and 4 fees for requesting extensions for notice of opposition fillings.

In a statement posted on www.uspto.gov, the reason for the increases are as follows:

“We have made these changes to better align fees with full costs, to protect the integrity of the register by incentivizing more timely filing or examination and more efficient resolution of appeals and trials, and to promote the efficiency of the trademark process, in large part through lower-cost electronic filing options.”

In 2015, the latest available year for data, there were 709,453 total patent documents published by the USPTO. This was a new record. The number of trademark applications for the same year was 530,270, and the number of trademarks currently registered and maintained through the USPTO is more than 2.1 million. With these numbers perpetually growing, the need for streamlining and expediting the patent and trademark process is obvious.

As technology continues to progress at a breathtaking pace, the way we process and protect intellectual property must keep pace. And it is more important than ever to get the proper legal help with your patent and trademark applications. A mistake can cost you dearly and you may never get a second chance.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

Trademark? Copyright?

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What is the difference between a Trademark and a Copyright?

While speaking at conferences  and webinars a frequent legal question that continuously  seems to come up is the difference between a trademark and screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-6-59-07-pmcopyright.

And there is indeed a distinction between a copyright and a trademark. And although both are forms of intellectual property, they each are distinctly different types of protection.

Copyright

Copyright – is a legal form of protection afforded to any original work of art or authorship that has been reduced to a tangible form. Examples again are books, articles, eBooks, photos, videos, poems, jewelry, and choreographed works. For more information on copyright, take a look at this page and check out the U.S. Copyright Office website.

Trademark

Trademark – a name, word, phrase, logo, or a combination of those things that identifies the source of a product or a service. Examples are Nike, Microsoft, Apple, the golden arches, the Nike swoosh symbol. For more information on trademark, take a look at this page and check out the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office website.

If your logo is important to you, and if it is at the core of your business, you should speak with a lawyer on a one to one basis and get some specific legal advice regarding your situation. Any information provided here is purely general informational and not legal advice.

You can read more in detail on the distinctions of both on the United States Patent  & Trademark Office website here.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward providing you with useful information to help you protect what’s yours. If you have a question you want me to answer in general terms, feel free to post the question on the comment section.  You can also connect with me through my Legal Facebook Page, my Legal Twitter Page, one of my Google+ Circles, or through one of my LinkedIn Group discussion.

Trademark Infringement. PayPal. Energizer.

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Cause Confusion.

Many people think that in order to be in violation of trademark law you have to copy a trademarked work exactly down to the tee. This, of course, is not true. Creating something that looks very similar to a trademarked work that can “cause confusion” among the public is often enough to trigger a trademark infringement complaint or lawsuit, particularly if the product or service is in the same category.

trademark sign padlockPayPal, the giant global online payment company, recently filed a trademark complaint against an Indian company in the same field called Paytm. Yes, both names begin with the word Pay, but that’s not the only issue that sparked the complaint. PayPal points out that the India-based competitor also uses the same two-tone blue in their logo.

The complaint alleges that the Paytm logo can cause confusion among global users and that the company is attempting to coopt PayPal’s “global reputation and grow its user base.”

In another recent case, the battery company Energizer, has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in a federal court in St. Louis against one of its competitors, Rayovac.

Energizer Brands alleges that Rayovac’s new packaging is “confusingly similar” to their own packaging, which has remained unchanged for years. The complaint accuses Rayovac of mimicking the color scheme and design of their battery packaging.

This Energizer lawsuit against Rayovac isn’t the first time they clashed with a competitor in regards to their trademarks. Earlier this year, Energizer sued competitor Duracell over placement of a pink bunny on their packaging, which Energizer claims is too similar to their registered trademarked pink Energizer bunny.

Trademark Infringement Definition.

The United States Patent And Trademark Office defines trademark infringement as follows:

Trademark infringement is the unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark on or in connection with goods and/or services in a manner that is likely to cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods and/or services.

As we see, confusion is the key. This confusion can manifest in many forms.  You must exercise due diligence when choosing words, phrases, designs and graphics, and even color schemes. And of course, if you have a trademark, be vigilant in protecting it.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

 

The Walking Dead. Trademark Infringement.

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Just in time for Halloween, the producer of the hit cable TV series, The Walking Dead, has filed a Trademark infringement lawsuit over the use of the name ‘Valhalla.’

fotolia_29963865_xsTrademark Lawsuit.

Valhalla Entertainment, the company behind The Walking Dead series, as well as two spinoffs of the popular show, Fear The Walking Dead and Talking Dead, filed the trademark suit against a company that is calling itself, Valhalla Studios.

Adding fuel to the lawsuit is the fact that Valhalla Studios opened up shop right in Atlanta, Georgia where The Walking Dead is produced. The suit states that unauthorized use of the name (Valhalla), which was registered in 1997, causes confusion and a misleading association with the two companies.

Wrongful Profits.

Besides trademark infringement, the lawsuit also sites unfair competition, deceptive trade practices and trademark dilution, as well as an unspecified amount of “wrongful” profits, actual and enhanced damages and legal fees and costs.

Ryan Millsap, the CEO of Valhalla Studios said he was surprised to hear about the lawsuit, saying he and his partners thought they were choosing a generic name whose roots stem from Viking lore. The company is investing roughly $70 million to build 9 sound stages on a 53 acre lot right outside of Atlanta. Millsap said his lawyers were in negotiation for over a month with Valhalla Entertainment regarding the name and was convinced they would come to an amicable agreement.

Coincidence?

Was this a simply a coincidence of a movie production company moving into the same area where a hit cable show is produced and innocently choosing the same name as the entertainment company that produces the show? Or is Valhalla Studios intentionally attempting to create confusion and ride the coattails of the popular production?

What are your thoughts?

Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles.

Trademark. Trademark Registration.

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Trademark Registration. Trademark.

Trademark. Trademark Registration.

Trademark. Trademark Registration.

Why is it that some clients don’t take the protection of their trademarks seriously….regardless of how insistent I am that they should? I have registered many, many trademarks for many clients. Once they receive their trademark, I even take time educating them as to the post-registration steps they MUST take. Yet, despite my imploring them to do the follow up, many choose not to. Once I have completed their registration, I remove myself as the attorney of record. At that time, it becomes their responsibility to do the following:

  1. 1. Continue to use their mark(s) as they said they were in the Statement of Use. This primary step is NOT to be taken lightly. Registered trademarks have been cancelled because the registrant did not continue to use the trademark in the EXACT way they claimed to use it in the Statement of Use.
  2. File a Declaration of Continued Use between years 5-6 after registration. I cannot stress that if you miss this step, you WILL lose your registration.
  3. Renew the trademark every 10 years after registration, which means 4-5 years after you file the Declaration of Continued Use, and every ten years thereafter.
  4. Monitor your trademark to make sure no one else is using it.
  5. If you discover someone is using it, ask them to stop. It is best that you consult with a competent trademark attorney to obtain guidance on the proper way to approach the situation. Why? If you send a scathing cease and desist letter without knowing what you are doing, your demand might backfire on you, and you can find yourself in the defendant’s seat.
    Getting a trademark isn’t like buying a shirt, you put it in the closet and can forget about it. Your trademark is more like a car. It needs maintaining. It entails paperwork to keep it legal and current. It needs vigilance to keep it from being stolen. Finally, it needs a good mechanic (attorney) to make sure it keeps working for you.

In closing, if you don’t take care of your intellectual property, who will? Please remember that registration is just the first step, not the end all.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groups, Google+ Circles.