By: Farzad A. Panjshiri  [7/20/22]

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) started issuing electronic trademark registration certificates on May 24, 2022, approximately two weeks earlier than initially planned. The USPTO blamed the accelerated issuance on a “paper vendor disruption,” however one wants to interpret that. Instead of the USPTO issuing a formal paper certificate with its gold seal, the USPTO will be issuing the registrations electronically, meaning as a pdf formatted document with an electronic signature of the USPTO Director and a digital seal to authenticate the registration. The electronic registration certificate can be accessed via the USPTO’s Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (“TSDR”) database, which has been a holder of digital registration certificates for many years. The difference is that trademark owners and their counsel will now be notified of a registration issuance via an email from the USPTO rather than a hardcopy registration certificate received via U.S. Mail at the applicant’s or attorney’s office.

According to the USPTO, customers have indicated a strong preference to receive trademark registration certificates in a digital format instead of a paper certificate in the past several years for several reasons. First, it will save trees and therefore be more environmentally friendly. Second, electronic registration certificates bring the USPTO another critical step closer to full electronic processing of trademark applications and registrations, from filing and initial data entry to output right into the USPTO database. Third, the USPTO is joining other countries, such as Canada, China, and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (“EUIPO”), among others, in issuing electronic trademark registration certificates. The EUIPO, for example, has offered online electronic trademark registration certificates since November 15, 2010.

E-registrations are a global trend and a necessary step for a more connected and interdependent intellectual property protection while also better sustaining the world’s environmental resources. Providing electronic trademark applications and registrations simplifies the trademark application process and increases the visibility and accessibility of registration data for national and international applicants. The electronic application process is easier because data can be entered into an electronic document from any location and uploaded directly into the USPTO database. Correcting simple formatting errors is also simpler in an electronic application. One-click access to an official trademark registration certificate anywhere in the world also simplifies, amongst others, the process of filing foreign applications by easing the process of obtaining a copy of the base registration for the foreign application or proving ownership of a trademark for litigation purposes. Transitioning from paper registration to e-registration also gives trademark owners faster access to their registrations since there is no longer a need to wait for the certificate to be printed and mailed.

The electronic registration certificate is now the official registration certificate issued by the USPTO. The USPTO still provides the option of purchasing a “presentation copy” or hard copy to display a registration, if desired. A presentation copy can be ordered for $25 and is free for trademark owners who filed their application before May 24, 2022.

I am confident that many Intellectual Property Offices (“IPOs”) around the world will follow the USPTO’s lead and are already preparing to offer fully electronic trademark applications and registrations. It will be fascinating to follow the future changes in the evolution of the electronic trademark application and registration systems of the U.S. and other IPOs and the opportunities for cooperation and management of international trademark portfolios.

If you have any questions regarding the USPTO’s electronic application or registration system, would like to request paper certificates, or need assistance protecting and maintaining your national or international Intellectual Property assets, please get in touch with the author linked above or the IP Team of Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig.

For more information on how Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig can help you with your legal needs, contact us by calling 800-747-9354 or emailing clientservices@dbllawyers.com.


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Posted in: Intellectual Property, Intellectual Property - Trademarks

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