As of October 5, 2019, the United States Patent and Trademark Office is going completely online!

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has made it official. Starting October 5, 2019, electronic filing of trademark submissions through the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) will be mandatory, with limited exceptions (i.e., paper and fax submissions will no longer be accepted). By having end-to-end electronic processing of trademark applications and registrations, the USPTO hopes to be able to process submissions faster and with fewer errors. Accordingly, those currently without access to the Internet or an email address will need to prepare for this new rule change (several companies like Google and Yahoo offer free email accounts, and local libraries are always a good place to get free Internet access).
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Husch Blackwell’s Caroline Chicoine is the current Vice Chair of the International Trademark Association’s (INTA) Impact Studies committee. Recently, she helped the committee finish the term strong with two important studies regarding Generation Z and the economic impact of trademark-intensive industries in Latin America.

Do Gen Zers make up a big part of your customer base? Gen Zers will make up the largest group of consumers worldwide by 2020. These consumers were born between 1995 and 2010 and are currently between 18 and 23 years of age. If you find your customer base consists of Gen Zers, the International Trademark Association’s Impact Studies committee’s recent study, titled “Gen Z Insights: Brands and Counterfeit Products” is a must-read. The multi-country study investigates the behavior of Gen Zers when it comes to their relationship with brands and attitudes toward counterfeit products. A copy of the Comprehensive Global Report covering ten (10) countries around the world, as well as reports for each country can be found here. For a comprehensive global infographic summarizing the results of the study, see here.
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Supreme Court Again Strikes Down Trademark Restrictions

Yesterday the United States Supreme Court announced its decision in Iancu v. Brunetti, holding that prohibiting trademarks that consist of or comprise immoral or scandalous matter(1) violates the First Amendment. The majority, written by Justice Kagan, centered its finding on the fact that the Act’s “immoral or scandalous” criterion is viewpoint-based which results in viewpoint-discriminatory application. In other words, a Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) Examiner must issue registrations from an impartial perspective, not from their own judgment. For example, a PTO trademark examiner would allow marks that support society’s ideas of decency and morality, but reject marks that do not align with those concepts.


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Every company, but especially startups, looks for a competitive edge to provide an advantage over other companies. Intellectual property (“IP”) rights and the strategy of how to leverage them may separate a startup from other companies.

Because IP can be an essential part of a business and of significant interest to potential investors, startups often enthusiastically disclose their inventions, technology, and other IP when pitching to potential investors or at public events. However, pitching to potential investors or publicly presenting before protecting the IP can have devastating consequences for companies.

We provide below a few of the reasons why companies should consider protecting their IP before disclosing it to the public.


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globe charts graphsCongratulations! You have developed or launched an innovative new product or service, and your business dreams are becoming a reality. It’s all very exciting.  One thing you may not have considered much, however, is whether your innovations or brand are susceptible to infringement in the international context. Will competitors try to make a knock-off product or steal your trade secrets? Are foreign companies going to ship infringing articles to the U.S. market? Protecting your intellectual property (IP) is key. Here are some fundamental suggestions to thwart such threats to your growing business.
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internet websiteAre your online trademark enforcements efforts being thwarted by inaccurate or inaccessible Whois data? If so, make your voices heard!

Problems with the accuracy and completeness of the Whois global database of domain name registrants are probably not a new thing for your company. We have all been there. You obtain the Whois record for an infringing domain name just to find out it is either registered under a privacy/proxy service or contains blatantly false contact information. If it makes you feel any better, know that you are not alone. The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) reported that inaccurate Whois complaints accounted for over 60% of informal complaints filed with Registrars between June 2017 and June 2018. If you have experienced the frustration of encountering inaccurate Whois data, be sure to report it to ICANN via its Whois Inaccuracy Complaint Form, which can be found here. All complaints are forwarded to the sponsoring registrar, who must take reasonable steps to investigate and correct the inaccurate data.


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soccer ballWhile all soccer eyes are on Russia, a company in Reno, Nevada has filed two new applications for the trademarks WORLD CUP 2026 – FAN INFO and WORLD CUP 2026 – U.S. TICKETS, just one day after North America was announced as the host of the World Cup in 2026. Also interesting to note is FIFA’s pending application for the mark USA 2026 was filed almost one year before North America was publicly announced as the 2026 host. What does this teach us? A company can gather a lot of competitive intelligence about a competitor or an industry simply by monitoring the trademark records at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). And the beauty of it all is that searching the records of the USPTO is absolutely free here. One simple search would have told the Nevada company that FIFA already has a registration for the mark WORLD CUP, likely a significant impediment to the registration of these marks.
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trademarkChoosing a common or trendy name for your startup opens your company to risk. You might like the name “Company XYZ,” and you might think you’re the “Company XYZ” of your field, but “Company XYZ” might disagree with you. If you are looking to choose a brand or product name, you need to think about trademarks earlier than you think.

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trademarkFor many new companies, coming up with a unique name is not easy. As a result, companies often fall back on the family name of one of the founders as an easy and identifiable way to enter the marketplace. Companies may now want to rethink that approach given the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (PTO’s) new examination guidelines for trademarks incorporating surnames.

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