USPTO Trademark Application: Trademark Office Actions
So, you successfully submitted your trademark application and you’re so excited to hear that your trademark is now officially registered!
U.S Patent and Trademark Office Action: Trademarked!…Almost
Except, instead of that notice, you get another letter from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office called an ‘Office Action’. The letter seems confused and complicated and at this point you’re not even sure if your trademark was outright denied or put on hold. You begin to wonder if this was all a huge mistake.
Protect Your Brand, Idea, or Design
Well, we’re here to clear up some of the confusion for you. First of all, it’s not a huge mistake. Taking the steps to protect your brand, idea, or design is a huge one and submitting the application for it is no small feat! The truth is, it’s actually quite common for trademark applications to not get accepted immediately. Importantly, this does not mean that your application has been denied. It just means that the USPTO needs some more information before granting you your trademark. After you submit your application, an examining attorney at USPTO will review it and they will determine if there are any problems with your application. If there are any, you will receive an ‘Office action’ letter, detailing what went wrong.
The Kinds of Office Actions by USPTO
There are really only two kinds of trademark Office actions that we need to know about: non-final and final. If the issue is detected for the first time, the USPTO will issue a non-final Office action. In that letter, they explain what problems persist with your application and they give you, the applicant, a chance to address and fix those problems. If, on the other hand, you have failed to address the issues that the USPTO raised in a previous Office action letter, then they will send out a final Office action letter to you. The crucial difference is that you have more limited rights to respond to final Office actions. Thus, it’s important to take action earlier on.
Reasons You May Have Received an “Office Action” During Trademark Process
There are plenty of reason you may have received an Office action during the trademark process, including:
- The USPTO think there’s a large chance of confusion between your mark and another trademark that is already registered. For their purposes, a ‘likelihood of confusion’ means that two looks are too similar to one another, especially if they are used in the same industry or class of goods and services. Basically, the USPTO won’t allow trademark registrations for a new mark if it is confusingly similar to one that already exists.
- There are some technical errors or inconsistencies in your trademark application. For instance, you may not have submitted all the necessary proof or measurements for your mark.
- You may also be attempting to register something that just can’t be trademarked, like a geographic name.
Your Response Should Be…Prepared.
In your Office action letter from USPTO, they will specify how long you have to respond to their concerns. Typically, your response needs to get back to them within 6 months of the mailing date of the Office action letter, but you should still check because they can choose to give you a much smaller window of time. Importantly, whatever deadline they give you cannot be extended or prolonged, so it’s very important to know the exact date and to act before it passes. This is because if you do not respond to an Office action by its deadline, then the USPTO will think that you have abandoned your application. In other words, you won’t get your trademark registered, nor will you get your filing fees back. Thus, prompt and timely responses to an Office action letter are essential to getting your trademark or patent registered.
Another important thing to keep in mind is what exactly the letters says that the examining attorneys takes issue with in your application. Oftentimes, an Office action letter wants you to fix or address simple problems that are quite easy to deal with, like submitting a different specimen, or paperwork. Other times, the issues are much more convoluted and those will require a much more detailed response. For example, if the examining attorney think that there is a high likelihood of confusion between your mark and another registered one, then you will have to send in legal arguments that illustrate the differences between the marks.
Responding to Office Action Letter by USPTO
When you do respond to an Office action letter, it’s of utmost importance that your response is well-thought out and that it actually addresses each and every single concern that the examining attorney has with your application. If you only address and respond to one of the issues that they raised but completely ignore or fail to respond to the rest, then you’ll probably receive a final Office action surrounding the rest of the issues. You should know that you can contact the examining attorney to ask for clarification on any of the issues they have raised, but they are not your lawyer and they will not help you create a response to those problems. Lastly, in the event that you do receive a final Office action, then the only way to appropriately respond is to address its concerns or to file an appeal with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
You Don’t Have to Go Through it Alone
While it can be incredibly demoralizing to receive an Office action letter instead of a notice that your trademark application was approved, you should not despair or lose hope. An Office action letter, does not mean that your trademark cannot ever be registered, just that there are some problems that need to be dealt with first.
At KAASS LAW, we work tirelessly with our clients to ensure that they send out the best possible application for their trademarks and patents, because we value the incredible originality and innovation in our clients’ work. By working with us, you already greatly reduce the chance that you will ever receive an Office action letter. But even if you do, we have your back. We will help you to break down the letter to make sure you understand what is being asked of you, and to respond effectively, ensuring that each of the points in the letter are appropriately addressed. If you or a loved one have received an Office action letter, or are considering submitting a trademark or patent application, we invite you to give us a toll free call at (310) 943-1171 to speak to our experienced Patent and Trademark lawyers today.
KAASS LAW, 815 E Colorado St #220, Glendale, CA 91205, (310) 943-1171