Coronavirus and Trademarks: Business as Usual at the Trademark Office

By Taylor W. Beckham

If you own, have applied for, or are preparing to apply for federal registration of a trademark, you might be wondering whether there are any extensions to responses or renewal deadlines. The short answer is no, the Trademark Office has not extended filing dates. In short, it’s pretty much business as usual at the Trademark Office.

But this does not mean that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is totally insensitive to what is happening in the United States regarding coronavirus. The USPTO will waive the petition fee to reinstate trademark applications and registrations that were abandoned, cancelled, or otherwise expired because of a late response to an Office Action caused by the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Petition to reinstate must be filed not later than two months after the notice of abandonment or cancellation, or additional time will be granted if the applicant or registrant never received the notice. The USPTO has also waived the requirement for original handwritten signatures in the few situations where they are still required. See 37 C.F.R. 1.4(e)(1) and (2).

Finally, oral hearings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) are being conducted remotely by video or by telephone. This is not a totally uncommon practice for the TTAB; prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the TTAB allowed for partially remote hearings. Additionally, and this is no surprise, the USPTO offices are closed to the public and any other scheduled in person interviews will also be conducted remotely by video or telephone.

Don’t let COVID-19 keep you from filing and maintaining your trademarks!

Taylor Beckham is an Associate at Gorman & Williams. Her practice is concentrated in the areas of intellectual property, business, and civil litigation. Taylor has argued in front of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and in federal court involving trademark infringement. Taylor currently manages trademark portfolios at various stages in the lifecycle of a trademark to include the inception phase, the application phase, and the maintenance phase of a trademark.