Will Your Business Be Impacted by the Current Trademark Surge at the USPTO?

Will Your Business Be Impacted by the Current Trademark Surge at the USPTO?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently acknowledged that it is facing a surge in trademark filings...

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently acknowledged that it is facing a surge in trademark filings. More importantly, the USPTO is struggling to keep up, leading to longer response times for many trademark owners and applicants.

Significant Increase in Trademark Filings

In a recent blog post, David Gooder, Commissioner for Trademarks, discussed what the ongoing surge in trademark filings means for applicants. According to Gooder, trademark applications from U.S. and foreign applicants have surged to unprecedented levels over the past several months.

As of June 17, the increase is approximately 63% over last year, which translates to about 211,000 more applications. In December 2020 alone, the USPTO received 92,608 trademark applications, an increase of 172% over December 2019. According to Gooder, this surge has doubled the number of applications waiting to be examined and increased waiting times at various stages in the USPTO’s processes. As a result, applicants may have to wait longer for initial processing of their application, receiving an office action, processing of responses to office actions, and reviewing of post-registration filings, Gooder warned.

The USPTO is currently examining the reasons behind the surge but has determined that the increase comes from both foreign and domestic filings and is caused in part by an increase in e-commerce during the pandemic. “For our customers, the bottom line is that applications are coming in faster than we have historically been able to examine them, and the backlog is increasing,” Gooder wrote. “We are keenly aware of this challenge and have taken steps to increase productivity while maintaining the high quality our applicants expect.”

To address the surge, the USPTO is implementing information technology solutions and system enhancements to increase the speed at which it can process applications. It has also hired additional examining attorneys and staff, established better ways to distribute the workload among its current attorneys and staff, and continues to look for more ways to increase efficiency. “Through these and other actions, we will eventually bring our processing times back to customary levels,” Gooder wrote.

Current Trademark Processing Times

The USPTO has also updated its current trademark processing wait times. Below is what filers can expect, as of May 2021:

  • Trademarks appearing in Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS): Initial applications generally appear in TESS in about a week.
  • New application assigned to attorney: Historically, new applications have been reviewed by an attorney between two and three months after the application is filed. With the huge surge in filings, the USPTO’s unexamined application inventory is much higher and it’s taking between four and five months to examine initial applications.
  • Responses to office actions: Currently, processing by the examination support unit may take 90 days or more. 
  • Post Registration: Processing times for post-registration maintenance filing backlogs normally average about 30 days. Currently, Post Registration processing may take about 60 days.

Trademark applicants and owners can increase the likelihood that their filings are accepted and processed more quickly by verifying that they have submitted all of the necessary information and required documentation. With the USPTO facing delays, it is imperative to get things right the first time around by working with an experienced trademark attorney.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, David Einhorn, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.

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