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Each new year brings a wave of new trends and interests to every field, but this year we’re looking at smoother processes, faster application review times, and the expansion of trademark law to keep up with new technology.
So, what can you expect from Trademark law in 2022? Keep reading to find out:
As you already know, registering your Trademark is key to protecting your brand and business. When you register a trademark, you have ownership of that word or phrase. While that’s great for brand protection, it also means that there are a finite number of available trademarks.
Before applying for a trademark, your attorney, or you if you register on your own, will need to conduct a search to make sure the trademark isn’t already in use. Unfortunately, there has been a growing problem of registered trademarks that are unused or fraudulent.
For a long time there was no clear solution to that problem. You could fight the trademark office to have them review a mark to make sure it’s still in use, but that process could take a very long time. As a business owner, you don’t want to have to wait months or even years to find out whether the trademark you want will be available to you.
Fortunately, the Trademark Modernization Act of 2020 went into effect on December 18, 2021. This act created new tools for businesses, individuals, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office to clear away unused federally registered trademarks. That means that trademarks that are currently registered, but unused so they should be accessible to you, will be reviewed by the trademark office to determine whether they should stay with the current owner or be available for registration for other people who want the same trademark.This provides a faster examination process which means that you can save time and money registering your trademark if it’s currently registered but unused.
This act brings two new types of proceedings to cancel existing trademark registrations:
One requirement of registering a trademark is that that mark must be used in commerce. This means it must be associated with a good or service whether that be on marketing materials, packaging, the good itself, or a number of other places. The expungement process allows anyone to request cancellation of some or all of the goods and services in a registration because the owner of the trademark never used the trademark in commerce.
Basically, you cannot own a trademark and intentionally, or unintentionally, fail to use it in association with the goods or service that you are selling. If you register a trademark and cannot prove that you are using it in commerce, you can lose your rights to that mark.
Similar to expungement, the reexamination process also allows anyone to challenge a use-based trademark registration if the trademark, in fact, is not being used in commerce. When you file a trademark application, you can either file it and claim that you are currently using that mark on the goods or services that you are selling, or that you intend to use the mark in the near future.
This particular process only applies to those trademarks that were filed with applications that claimed that they were in use at the time the application was filed.
Both of these processes will allow unused trademarks to be freed up so new applicants can apply for them. As of December 1, 2022, the USPTO will have the ability to move trademark applications through the process more quickly.
While the majority of the interest for the average business owner is in the adjustments to the processes within the trademark office, there are going to be a number of changes in the area of law. To learn more about updates to the application process or how to get your trademark registered, schedule a 30 minute consulting call.
A checklist to help you determine whether it’s time for a trademark in your business.
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