Patent Law

Notice of Allowance – Patents

The Question

Our Company received a Notice of Allowance on our Nonprovisional Patent Application. What are our next steps?

Consider: If the invention claimed by the Nonprovisional Patent Application is a “core” technology or a money maker for your company, it is wise to keep an Application pending.

More information you need: 35 United States Code 151 gives the Applicant a maximum of three months from the date of mailing of the Notice of Allowance for the Applicant to pay the Issue Fee. (Note: If the Issue Fee is not paid, the Patent Application will be abandoned.)

Tech Sufficiently Different

If the newer technology is sufficiently different from the structures of the pending Nonprovisional Patent Application, a Provisional Patent Application can be filed. (Inventions can consist of biological, chemical, electrical or mechanical structures or combinations thereof.)

Tech Sufficiently Similar

If your newer technology is sufficiently similar (or incorporates many of the structures of the pending Nonprovisional Patent Application) and certain conditions are met, a Continuation-Type Application (claiming priority to your pending Nonprovisional Patent Application) can be filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The Law

35 U.S.C. 151, in part, reads:

(a)     In General.—

If it appears that an applicant is entitled to a patent under the law, a written notice of allowance of the application shall be given or mailed to the applicant. The notice shall specify a sum, constituting the issue fee and any required publication fee, which shall be paid within 3 months thereafter.

There are Two Continuation-Type Applications (in USA)

  • A Continuation Application – this claims priority to the pending Nonprovisional Application, utilizes the Specification of the Nonprovisional Patent Application, and includes new claims.
  • A Continuation-in-Part Application – claims priority to the pending Nonprovisional Application, adds “new matter” (structures) to the Specification of the Nonprovisional Patent Application, and includes new claims.

Child Patents Used to Broaden a Parent Patent

Seasoned Applicants frequently file a Child Patent Application claiming priority to the Parent Application. If you opt to use this procedure, make sure you file the Child Patent Application before the Patent flowing from the Parent Application is granted. If the Patent is granted before the Child Patent Application is filed, Patent Examiners may be able to use the Parent Patent to prevent the Child Patent Application from succeeding.

The Law

35 U.S.C. 102, in part, reads:

“(a)Novelty; Prior Art.—A person shall be entitled to a patent unless—

(1) the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention…”

Terminal Disclaimers and Your Patent Application

Use of Continuation-Type Patent Applications may require that any future Patent granted be limited by a Terminal Disclaimer. As a general rule, a Terminal Disclaimer causes the term of the Children Patents to expire on the same day as the Parent Patent.

The Law

35 U.S.C. 120 reads:

“An application for patent for an invention disclosed in the manner provided by section 112(a) (other than the requirement to disclose the best mode) in an application previously filed in the United States, or as provided by section 363 or 385, which names an inventor or joint inventor in the previously filed application shall have the same effect, as to such invention, as though filed on the date of the prior application, if filed before the patenting or abandonment of or termination of proceedings on the first application or on an application similarly entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the first application and if it contains or is amended to contain a specific reference to the earlier filed application. No application shall be entitled to the benefit of an earlier filed application under this section unless an amendment containing the specific reference to the earlier filed application is submitted at such time during the pendency of the application as required by the Director. The Director may consider the failure to submit such an amendment within that time period as a waiver of any benefit under this section. The Director may establish procedures, including the requirement for payment of the fee specified in section 41(a)(7), to accept an unintentionally delayed submission of an amendment under this section.”

Don’t Delay Your Response to a Notice of Allowance!

You should not delay initiating your company’s strategy, since a Notice of Allowance requires your action, as an applicant.

  • Issue Fee must be paid within three month of the Notice of Allowance – There are no time extensions
  • Grant of Patent can be delayed as much as 4 months from date of Notice of Allowance
  • It can be quite time-consuming for your Attorney to prepare the Continuation-Type Application or the Provisional Patent Application, so don’t delay
  • Assembling the required inventor’s declarations and assignments can also be time-consuming (even more so when when inventors in different time zones and multiple jurisdictions are involved
  • Preparing the required USPTO documents that accompany the Continuation-Type Application can be tedious
  • A Continuation-Type strategy can often be used for several years before it is no longer cost-effective for the Company

Questions? We Can Help!

If your company is developing a post Notice of Allowance strategy, we can help. Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies. If you need assistance, please contact us.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.

Lexington Kentucky Trademark Bananas

Lexington Trademarks/Service Marks

Will the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grant a federal Trademark/Service Mark Registration for the term “Lexington?” It depends on the goods or services with which the Trademark or Service Mark are associated.

The Statutory Law

15 United States Code (U.S.C.) Section 1052, in part, reads:

No trademark by which the goods of the applicant may be distinguished from the goods of others shall be refused registration on the principal register on account of its nature unless it—

(e) Consists of a mark which, (1) when used on or in connection with the goods of the applicant is merely descriptive or deceptively misdescriptive of them, (2) when used on or in connection with the goods of the applicant is primarily geographically descriptive of them, except as indications of regional origin may be registrable under section 1054 of this title, (3) when used on or in connection with the goods of the applicant is primarily geographically deceptively misdescriptive of them, (4) is primarily merely a surname, or (5) comprises any matter that, as a whole, is functional.

When certain facts are in evidence, under 15 U.S.C. Section 1052(e), the Trademark Examiner can reject the Applicant’s Application as “primarily geographically descriptive.”

The USPTO Examiner’s Geographically Descriptive Marks – Test

The Examiner is to consider:

  • (1) the primary significance of the mark is a generally known geographic location
  • (2) the goods or services originate in the place identified in the mark; and
  • (3) purchasers would be likely to believe that the goods or services originate in the geographic place identified in the mark. Note: If the mark is remote or obscure, the public is unlikely to make a goods/place or services/place association.

Illustration 1 – Refusal

The Owner of a Lexington, Kentucky restaurant filed an Application for Registration in the USPTO for “The Lexington” for restaurant services

Pursuant to the USPTO test, the Examiner would argue that “The Lexington” for restaurant services is “primarily geographically descriptive” and refuse registration of the Service Mark.

Illustration 2 – Approval

The Owner of a Lexington, Kentucky banana store filed an Application for Registration in the USPTO for “Lexington” for bananas

Pursuant to the USPTO test and the case law, the name of a geographic location that has no significant relation to commercial activities or the production of the relevant goods or services, such as Lexington for bananas, is treated as an arbitrary mark because it is unlikely that consumers would believe that the mark identifies the place from which the goods originate.  The Examiner would likely conclude that the Trademark “Lexington” for bananas sold by the Lexington banana store should be granted.

Illustration 3 – Refusal

The Owner of a Lexington, Kentucky saddlery shop filed an Application for Registration in the USPTO for “Lexington” for saddles, bridles, and other equipment for horses

Pursuant to the USPTO test, the Examiner would argue that “Lexington” for saddles, bridles, and other equipment for horses is “primarily geographically descriptive” and refuse registration of the Trademark because Lexington, Kentucky is world renown for thoroughbred horses.

Conclusion

For Applicants, the federal registration process can be somewhat confusing.  By way of illustration, when a potentially “geographically descriptive” mark overcomes the 15 U.S.C. Section 1052(e) bar to registration, the applicant must still overcome the 15 U.S.C. § 1052 Sec. 2 (d) “likelihood of confusion” bar and other 15 U.S.C. § 1052 bars to registration.

Business Patent Law, PLLC assists companies and individuals with the procurement and management of their Intellectual Property portfolios.

If your enterprise needs legal assistance procuring/managing/enforcing your Patent Applications, Patents, Copyrights or Trademarks/Service Marks, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.

Likelihood of Confusion trademarks service marks

Likelihood of Confusion – Trademarks

“Likelihood of confusion” is a legal test. It is applied by the courts and administrative agencies to contested Trademark/Service Mark proceedings and by United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Examiners during the registration process for Trademark/Service Mark Applications.

Likelihood of Confusion – What Law Applies?

Before a federal Trademark is granted, an Applicant must prove to the USPTO that the Trademark was used on goods and/or services in commerce that the U.S. Congress may lawfully regulate. The geographical limit for a federal Trademark registration is the geographical boundary of the United States and its territories.

Federal Jurisdiction

Federal jurisdiction of Trademarks/Service Marks (hereinafter Trademarks) can be controlled by the precedent of the US Supreme Court or one of the thirteen federal circuit courts sitting beneath the US Supreme Court.

Each of the thirteen federal circuits has its own case law precedent for adjudicating “likelihood of confusion” for contested Trademarks.  Although the case law precedent of the federal circuits is similar, it is not identical.

State Jurisdiction

When a Trademark is granted at the State level, the law of that State controls court and agency proceedings. The laws of the several States are variable on the standards for “likelihood of confusion.” The geographical limit for a State Trademark is the border of the State.

Likelihood of Confusion – USPTO Trademark Applications

For the USPTO, the “likelihood of confusion” precedent for Trademark Examiners is set forth in the case of In re E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 177 U.S.P.Q. 563 (C.C.P.A. 1973). Today, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has jurisdiction over appeals from USPTO agencies and adopted the du Pont case as precedent.

On page 567 of the du Pont case, the court stated:

“In testing for the likelihood of confusion under 15 U.S.C. § 1052 Sec. 2 (d), the following, when of record, must be considered:

  1. The similarity or dissimilarity of the marks in their entireties as to appearance, sound, connotation and commercial impression.
  2. The similarity of dissimilarity and nature of the goods or services as described in an application or registration or in connection with which a prior mark is in use.
  3. The similarity or dissimilarity of established, likely-to-continue trade channels.
  4. The conditions under which and buyers to whom sales are made, i.e., “impulse” vs. care, sophisticated purchasing.
  5. The fame of the prior mark (sales, advertising, length of use.)
  6. The number and nature of similar marks in use on similar goods.
  7. The nature and extent of any actual confusion. The length of time during and conditions under which there has been concurrent use without evidence of actual confusion.
  8. The variety of goods on which a mark is or is not used (house mark, “family” mark, product mark).
  9. The market interface between applicant and the owner of a prior mark… (e.g., have the interested parties executed a contract to proclaim there is no confusion?).
  10. The extent to which the applicant has a right to exclude others from use of its mark on its goods.
  11. The extent of potential confusion, i.e., whether de minimis or substantial.
  12. Any other established fact probative of the effect of use.”

If the Examiner or the USPTO determines there is a “likelihood of confusion” between Applicant’s Trademark and a prior Registration or pending Application, the USPTO will refuse to register the junior Applicant’s Trademark.

Observations

With regard to the “likelihood of confusion” test, each of the federal circuit courts have adopted precedent similar to the test set forth in the case of In re E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 177 U.S.P.Q. 563 (C.C.P.A. 1973). When possible, parties to an infringement will attempt to try the case in a venue most favorable a party’s evidence and arguments.

Have Questions on Your Trademark?

Business Patent Law, PLLC assists companies and individuals with the procurement and management of their Intellectual Property portfolios.

If your enterprise needs legal assistance procuring/managing/enforcing your Patent Applications, Patents, Copyrights or Trademarks/Service Marks, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses of all sizes.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.

patent application possibilities

Patent Application Possibilities

Depending on your company’s intellectual property strategy, there are many Patent Application possibilities.

The Question

Our R&D engineers recently invented improvements for our Company’s Product One.  We have sold Product One for more than a year. The US Patent for Product One was granted six months ago. Can the Company file a US Patent Application for Product Two that includes two structures not part of Product One?

The Answer

It depends on the situation and 35 United States Code 120.

Examples and Possibilities

Patent Application Possibilities  – First Example

  • Our Company filed a US Provisional Patent Application disclosing Product One on June 20, 2019.
  • Our Company filed a US Nonprovisional Patent Application disclosing and claiming Product One on June 15, 2020.
  • The USPTO granted our US Patent for Product One on February 9, 2021.

In August 2021, your Company can file a Patent Application for Product Two in the USPTO. However, the USPTO will be able to use the US Patent for Product One to argue against the patentability of Product Two. Unless there are novel and nonobvious structural differences between Product Two and Product One, the USPTO will not grant a Patent for Product Two.

Patent Application Possibilities – Second Example

  • Our Company filed a US Provisional Patent Application disclosing Product One on June 20, 2019.
  • Our Company filed a US Nonprovisional Patent Application disclosing and claiming Product One on June 15, 2020.
  • In August 2021, the US Nonprovisional Patent Application for Product One is still pending in the USPTO.

Because the Product One US Nonprovisional Patent Application is still pending, your Company can file a US Continuation-in-Part Nonprovisional Application for Product Two, claiming priority to pending US Nonprovisional Patent Application for Product One. The USPTO cannot effectively use the structures of the Product One Patent Application to reject identical structures in the Product Two Patent Application.

Patent Application Possibilities – Third Example

  • Our Company filed a US Provisional Patent Application disclosing Product One on June 20, 2019.
  • Our Company filed a Patent Cooperation Treaty Patent (PCT) Application disclosing and claiming Product One on June 15, 2020.
  • Our Company filed a US National Stage Nonprovisional Application claiming priority to PCT Application for Product One on August 15, 2020.
  • The USPTO granted our US National Stage Patent for Product One on April 13, 2021.

Pursuant to Title 35 of United States Code and Patent Cooperation Treaty, your Company has until December 2021, to file a US Continuation-in-Part Nonprovisional Application for Product Two claiming priority to PCT Application for Product One.

The USPTO cannot effectively use the structures of the PCT Application for Product One or the April 13, 2021 US Patent for Product One to reject identical structures in the Product Two Patent Application.

35 United States Code 120 Benefit of earlier filing date in the United States

 35 U.S.C. 120, in part, reads:

An application for patent for an invention disclosed in the manner provided by section 112(a) (other than the requirement to disclose the best mode) in an application previously filed in the United States, or as provided by section 363 or 385 which names an inventor or joint inventor in the previously filed application shall have the same effect, as to such invention, as though filed on the date of the prior application, if filed before the patenting or abandonment of or termination of proceedings on the first application or on an application similarly entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the first application and if it contains or is amended to contain a specific reference to the earlier filed application.

For those companies that have a profitable (or potentially profitable) product that is patentable, it is wise to keep a Patent Application pending.  The marketplace decides whether the first generation, the second generation or a subsequent generation product is the most profitable.

Need Help With Securing Your Product Patent?

Business Patent Law, PLLC assists companies and individuals with the procurement and management of their Intellectual Property portfolios. If your enterprise needs legal assistance procuring/managing/enforcing your Patent Applications, Patents, Copyrights or Trademarks/Service Marks, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.

USPTO Notice to Correct Application Papers -Patent Law

Notice to Correct Application Papers

What is a Notice to Correct Application Papers?

The notice means United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has found an issue with the  filing (the way the paperwork looks, or what’s included in, or a clarification is needed your application) and is asking you to correct them and resubmit. Your time in which to do so is limited, if you want to retain the original filing date (and we know you want to keep that earliest date!)

A Notice to Correct Application Papers can be issued anytime during the pendency of a Nonprovisional Patent Application, but it will usually be sent shortly after your Patent Application is filed.

Your Filing May Be Considered “Informal”

Section 506 of the USPTO Manual of Patent Examining Procedure reads:

“III. INFORMAL APPLICATIONS

An application is informal if it is typed on both sides of the paper, or is not permanent, legible, or reproducible. If such informalities are timely corrected, the application is given the filing date on which the original informal papers were filed.

OPAP accords a filing date, as of the date indicated by the “Office Date” stamp (see MPEP 505), to application papers which include a specification containing a description and at least one claim (nonprovisional applications filed under 37 C.F.R. 1.53(b) prior to March 18, 2013 and design applications), and a drawing, if necessary under 35 U.S.C. 113 (first sentence) and 37 C.F.R. 1.53(b), but are informal because they do not comply with the rules or notices. In such applications, OPAP will send a Notice (e.g., Notice to File Corrected Application Papers) requiring correction of the informality. Failure to correct the informality within the specified time results in abandonment of the application.”

Case Study: The Situation

  • Our company’s Dallas R&D department filed a US Provisional Patent Application for one the company’s electromechanical gadgets. Before the expiration of the Provisional Patent Application, our company filed a US Nonprovisional Patent Application claiming the benefit of the US Provisional Application. Our in-house patent attorney located at our principal office in Houston had previously used this strategy to procure several US Patents.
  • Among other things, the Nonprovisional Patent Application included: an Abstract, Claims, a Specification and black and white line Drawings.
  • After filing the Nonprovisional Application, the USPTO generated a Notice to File Missing Parts because one of the inventor’s Declarations was missing from the as-filed Application. After receiving the Notice to File Missing Parts, our in-house counsel timely supplied the missing inventor’s Declaration to the USPTO.
  • Over the subsequent three and one-half years, our in-house counsel argued back and forth with the Patent Examiner, and eventually, the Examiner issued a Notice of Allowance for our electromechanical gadget Nonprovisional Patent Application.
  • More than a month after receiving the Notice of Allowance, the Examiner issued a Notice to File Corrected Application Papers.

Our Company’s Notice to Correct Application Papers

The Notice, in part, read:

“Notice of Allowance Mailed

This application has been accorded an Allowance Date and is being prepared for issuance. The application, however, is incomplete for the reasons below.

Applicant is given two (2) months from the mail date of this Notice within which to respond. This time period for reply is extendable under 37 CFR 1.126(a) for only two additional MONTHS.

The informalities requiring correction are indicated in the attachment(s). If the informality pertains to the abstract, specification (including claims) or drawings, the informality must be corrected with an amendment in compliance with 37 CFR 1.121…

Figure numbers are missing or duplicated. FIGS 21-24.”

Notice to Correct Application Papers: Our Next Steps

Since our company had never received a Notice to Correct Application Papers, we looked to a law firm to manage this matter for us. Amended Drawings were filed and the Patent issued in due course.

Do You Need Help From a Lawyer Specializing in Patent Law?

If you have received a Notice to Correct Application Papers, or have other questions or concerns about filing and protecting your intellectual property, we are here for you. General or in-house counsel is great for many of the legal questions or tasks your company may need, but questions about working with the Patent and Trademark Office and responding to their notices, may require someone with more specialized experience.

Protect Your Valuable Intellectual Property

If your enterprise needs legal assistance procuring/managing/enforcing your Patent Applications, Patents of Trademarks/Service Marks, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.

Securing Your Trademark Service Mark - Evidence of Use for Trademarks

Evidence of Use for Trademarks

Do I Have to Use My Product or Trademark in Commerce First?

Yes. Before the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) grants a Registration, you must provide evidence of use of the Mark in commerce.

The Statutory Law

15 United States Code 1051 (U.S.C.) (a) (2) reads, “The application shall include specification of the applicant’s domicile and citizenship, the date of the applicant’s first use of the mark, the date of the applicant’s first use of the mark in commerce, the goods in connection with which the mark is used, and a drawing of the mark.”

15 U.S.C. 1127, in part, reads, “The word “commerce” means all commerce which may lawfully be regulated by Congress.”

Establishing Interstate or International Use

Only interstate or international commerce can be lawfully regulated by Congress. Thus, interstate or international use of your product is required to secure a federal Registration.

Example Scenarios

Your Louisville, Kentucky company, only sells gizmos (bearing your Trademark) to a Lexington Kentucky corporation. In this example, there is only intrastate commerce. Since Congress does not regulate intrastate commerce, your Trademark would not be a subject for a federal Registration.

On the other hand, if your Cincinnati Ohio company sells gizmos (bearing your Trademark) to corporations in Columbus, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; and Nashville, Tennessee, then you conduct interstate commerce. Since Congress regulates interstate commerce, your Trademark would eligible for a federal Registration.

Likewise, if your Lexington, Kentucky company sells your gizmos (bearing your Trademark) to retailers in Canada and Mexico, then you conduct international commerce. Congress regulates international commerce, so your Trademark would be eligible for federal Registration.

What is Acceptable Evidence of Use to Establish Interstate or International Use?

For either Trademarks or Service Marks, invoices and other business records showing sales across state lines or international borders are useful in establishing interstate and/or international commerce. Here are a few more examples of acceptable evidence of use for both Trademarks and Service marks:

 Examples of Evidence for Trademarks:

  • Photographs of the Trademark, when attached to the goods and/or the packaging containing the goods
  • Photographs of displays of the goods, where the displays and the goods bear the Trademark
  • Screen shots of websites for the sale of goods where the website and the goods bear the Trademark
  • Screen shots of websites for the streaming or downloading of software products, where the website and the software goods bear the Trademark
  • Copies of audio commercials advertising the goods bearing your Trademark
  • Photographs of promotional giveaways advertising the goods bearing your Trademark

Examples of Evidentiary Specimens for Service Marks:

  • Photographs associating the Service Mark with the services rendered
  • Video and/or audio commercials associating the Service Mark with the services rendered
  • Printed publications and brochures associating the Service Mark with the services rendered
  • Letterhead and business cards associating the Service Mark with the services rendered
  • Photographs of promotional giveaways associating the Service Mark with the services rendered

What Digital Formats Should I Use To Provide Evidence?

Do you plan to submit digital proof of use to the USPTO? Then you need to know that the office prefers PDF or .jpg samples. So, be sure to submit all digitally filed evidentiary specimens in one of these two formats.

What If I Need More Trademark Help or Legal Advice?

When you need help to secure, manage and/or enforce your Trademarks or Service Marks, contact Business Patent Law, PLLC. Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies of all sizes.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.

Interview with Patent Examiner by Video Conference

Your Patent: Office Actions and Examiner Interviews

Office Actions

The Patent Offices of the various jurisdictions around the world issue Office Actions. These actions indicate many things, including the status of the Patent Application. An Office Action reflects the current opinion of one or more Patent Examiners regarding a Patent Application.

Types of Office Actions for Pending Applications

  • Filing Receipt
  • Notices of Abandonment
  • Notices of Allowance
  • Notices of Publication
  • Notice to Correct Application Papers
  • Patent Cooperation Treaty Information
  • Payment of Additional Governmental Fees
  • Substantive Examination by Examiners

What is a Substantive Examination by the USPTO?

A USPTO Substantive Examination Office Action generated by an Examiner’s can include:

  • Under 35 U.S.C. 101, the Examiner concludes if the Application is directed to patentable subject matter
  • Under 35 U.S.C. 102, the Examiner opines if one or more of the claims of the Application are novel
  • Under 35 U.S.C. 103, the Examiner can argue if one or more of the claims of the Application are obvious in view of the prior art
  • Among other things, under 35 U.S.C. 112, the Examiner determines if the Specification enables one in the art to practice the invention and whether the claims particularly point out and distinctly claim the subject matter the Applicant regards as the invention

Applicant Interviews with the Examiner

The USPTO allows Applicants (or their representatives) to conference with Examiners. These conferences can simplify 35 U.S.C. 101-103 and 35 U.S.C. 112 matters propounded by the Examiner and streamline the Applicant’s prosecution and the Examiner’s examination of the Patent Application. Over the years, it is Business Patent Law’s experience that verbal communication between the Examiner and Applicant’s attorney can assist both sides in better understanding the opposing side’s arguments.

Types of Applicant Interviews

There are three primary types of applicant interviews with the examiner for these pending office actions:

  • In-person
  • Telephone conference
  • Video conference

Some USPTO Examiners require the Applicant to use the USPTO Automated Interview Request system to schedule an interview.

Have Questions About Office Actions?

If you need legal assistance in responding to the USPTO Office Action for your Patent Application, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC. Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.

In the meantime, if you would like to stay up-to-date with news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.

Intent to Use Applications - Service Marks and Trademarks

Intent to Use Applications

Intent to Use Applications for Registration

There are two kinds of federal Trademark/Service Mark Applications:

  1. Intent to Use Applications
  2. In Use Applications

In the United States, the Mark must have interstate or international use before a federal Registration is granted.

Clients may opt to use the Intent to Use route to establish a “constructive” date of first use (the filing date) with the grant of the Registration. This constructive date of first use can benefit the Applicant/Owner of the Mark in situations where there are conflicts between competing Applications for Registration.

The Statutory Law for Intent to Use Applications

The United States code allows an applicant to file an Application for Registration before the Mark has interstate or international usage. That section of the code (15 United States Code 1051) reads:

(b)Application for bona fide intention to use trademark

(1)  A person who has a bona fide intention, under circumstances showing the good faith of such person, to use a trademark in commerce may request registration of its trademark on the principal register hereby established by paying the prescribed fee and filing in the Patent and Trademark Office an application and a verified statement, in such form as may be prescribed by the Director.

When filing of the Application, the Applicant must verify the following:

  • The Applicant believes that he/she/it is entitled to use the Mark in commerce
  • The Applicant has a bona fide intention of using the Mark in commerce
  • That the facts recited in the Application are accurate
  • That no other person is using an identical form in connection with goods (services) or in a near enough resemblance that it is likely to cause confusion, mistake, or to deceive

There is a USPTO filing fee for filing the Intent to Use Application and the filing of an Application for Registration does not guarantee that Registration will be granted.

The USPTO email Notice of Allowance

After filing of the Intent to Use Application, there may be one or more Office Actions between the Examiner and the Applicant before the Examiner issues or declines a Notice of Allowance.

If the Examiner approves the Intent to Use Application, the Applicant will receive an email from the USPTO that indicates the following (among other things):

  • Notice of Allowance (NOA)
  • Issue Date
  • U.S. Serial Number
  • Mark
  • Docket/Reference Number

If no opposition was filed for this published Application, the issue date of this NOA establishes the due date for the filing of a Statement of Use (SOU) or a Request for Extension of Time to file a Statement of Use (Extension Request).  WARNING: A SOU that meets all legal requirements must be filed before a Registration Certificate can issue.  Please read below for important information regarding the Applicant’s pending six (6) month deadline.

The Six Month Deadline

An applicant has six (6) MONTHS from the NOA issue date to file either:

  • An SOU, if the Applicant is using the mark in commerce. OR
  • An Extension Request. (Required if the applicant is not yet using the mark in commerce.)

NOTE: If an Extension Request is filed, a new request must be filed every six (6) months until the SOU is filed.  The applicant may file a total of five (5) extension requests.  Warning: An SOU may not be filed more than thirty-six (36) months from when the NOA issued.  The deadline for filing is always calculated from the issue date of the NOA.

Post Notice of Allowance Procedures 

Until the Mark has interstate or international usage and the Registration is granted, Applicant must file either:

  • A Statement of Use; or
  • A Request for an Extension of Time in which to file a Statement of Use

Support of a Request for an Extension of Time to file a Statement of Use

You do not have to show “good cause” for the first request, but in order to support your request for an extension after that, you must include a showing of good cause. The showing of good cause must include a statement of the Applicant’s ongoing efforts to use of the Mark in commerce.

Efforts to use the Mark in commerce may include:

  • product or service research or development
  • market research
  • manufacturing activities
  • promotional activities
  • steps to acquire distributors
  • steps to obtain required governmental approval, or
  • other similar activities

An Applicant can file a maximum of five Requests for an Extension of Time to file a Statement of Use.

Need assistance with your Intent To Use Application?

If you need legal assistance in preparing Trademark Applications, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC. Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.

Racing to the Patent Line - Priority Date Filing USTPO

What is a Priority Date for Patents?

The priority date, under US law, is the filing date of the first Patent Application (Provisional or Nonprovisional) to which a Nonprovisional Patent Application claims benefit. Depending on the facts of each case, the claim of priority must be established prior to the expiration of the Provisional Application, abandonment of the Nonprovisional Application, or the grant of the Patent.

Why is a Patent’s Priority Date a Big Deal?

Among other things, the USPTO can only use references that were available prior to the priority date to reject the claims of the Nonprovisional Patent Application.  In other words, the USPTO cannot use inventions filed after this priority date to reject the claims of a Nonprovisional Patent Application. So if a competitor invents something while you are waiting for the Patent Office’s review, the earlier the filing date or priority date, the less prior art the Examiner can use to reject your Patent Application.

This matters because it may be two, four, or more years after you file your Nonprovisional Application before the USPTO starts detailed examination of your application.

What If I Made Earlier Filings?

A Nonprovisional Patent Application can claim the benefit of an earlier Provisional Application or a previously filed Nonprovisional Application. If a Nonprovisional Patent Application doesn’t claim the benefit of a Provisional Application or priority based on a previously filed Nonprovisional Application, the priority date is the filing date on the original Nonprovisional Patent Application.

What the US Code Says

35 United States Code (U.S.C.) 120

35 U.S.C. 120, in part reads, “An application for patent for an invention disclosed in the manner provided by section 112(a) (other than the requirement to disclose the best mode) in an application previously filed in the United States, or as provided by section 363 or 385 which names an inventor or joint inventor in the previously filed application shall have the same effect, as to such invention, as though filed on the date of the prior application, if filed before the patenting or abandonment of or termination of proceedings on the first application or on an application similarly entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the first application and if it contains or is amended to contain a specific reference to the earlier filed application…”

35 U.S.C. 119(e)

35 U.S.C. 120(e), in part reads, “(1) An application for patent filed under section 111(a) or section 363 for an invention disclosed in the manner provided by section 112(a) (other than the requirement to disclose the best mode) in a provisional application filed under section 111(b), by an inventor or inventors named in the provisional application, shall have the same effect, as to such invention, as though filed on the date of the provisional application filed under section 111(b), if the application for patent filed under section 111(a) or section 363 is filed not later than 12 months after the date on which the provisional application was filed and if it contains or is amended to contain a specific reference to the provisional application…”

Examples: How Priority Date for Patent Applications Works

  • Our Provisional Application was filed July 4, 2020 and on January 15, 2021 our company files a Nonprovisional claiming the benefit of our Provisional Application. The priority date is July 4, 2020.
  • Our company filed a Nonprovisional Application on March 15, 2020. We opt to file a PCT Application. The priority date is March 15, 2020.
  • The Provisional Application was filed on September 15, 2019. Our company filed a Nonprovisional Application on September 12, 2020 claiming the benefit of the Provisional Application. Our engineers invented an improvement to the invention that was disclosed in the Nonprovisional Application but not in the Provisional Application. We opted to file a Continuation Nonprovisional Application. The priority dates are September 12, 2020 for the improvement and September 15, 2019 for the remainder of the invention disclosed in the Provisional Application.
  • Our company filed a Provisional Application directed to a mousetrap on January 12, 2017. On January 9, 2018, we filed a PCT Application directed to the mousetrap. In March 21, 2019, our engineers invented a device for use with the mousetrap. The device is used for sampling the DNA of the mouse restrained in the mousetrap. On May 15, 2019, the company files a US Continuation-in-Part Application claiming both the mousetrap and the device for sampling DNA. The priority dates are January 12, 2017 for the mousetrap and May 15, 2019 for the device for sampling DNA.

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies. If you need legal assistance in preparing Patent Applications, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.

suspended trademark next steps

Trademark Suspension Notice: How to Handle

The Trademark Suspension Situation

Our Company has been using our Trademark for Years. Our General Counsel filed an In-Use Federal Trademark Application. We just received a Suspension Notice from the Trademark Examiner.

  • During the Application phase, regardless of your Company’s alleged prior use, the Examiner can suspend your Company’s Trademark Application
  • With regard to Trademark Applications filed in the USPTO, until the subsequent Applicant proves otherwise, the first Applicant to file has superior procedural rights, and potentially, superior substantive rights
  • When a Trademark Application is suspended, the Examiner takes no further action on the suspended Application until proof of certain evidentiary conditions cause the Examiner to resume examination of the suspended Application
  • In some situations, multiple Applicants’ Applications can be suspended for a period of years

Receiving a Trademark Suspension Notice

A United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Suspension Notice of a pending Trademark Application looks something like the following:

SUSPENSION NOTICE

No Response Required

Issue date:  December 15, 2020

The application is suspended for the reason(s) specified below.  See 37 C.F.R. §2.67; TMEP §§716 et seq.

USPTO database searched; prior-filed potentially conflicting pending application(s) found.  The trademark examining attorney searched the USPTO database of registered and pending marks and found no conflicting registered marks that would bar registration under Trademark Act Section 2(d).  15 U.S.C. §1052(d); TMEP §704.02.  However, a mark(s) in a prior-filed pending application(s) may bar registration of applicant’s mark.

The pending application(s) below has an earlier filing date or effective filing date than applicant’s application.  If the mark in the application(s) below registers, the USPTO may refuse registration of applicant’s mark under Section 2(d) because of a likelihood of confusion with the registered mark(s).  15 U.S.C. §1052(d); see 37 C.F.R. §2.83; TMEP §1208.02(c).  Action on this application is suspended until the prior-filed application(s) below either registers or abandons.  37 C.F.R. §2.83(c).  Information relevant to the application(s) below is provided in this letter.

– U.S. Application Serial No(s). ????????

Suspension process.  The USPTO will periodically check this application to determine if it should remain suspended.  See TMEP §716.04.  As needed, the trademark examining attorney will issue a letter to applicant to inquire about the status of the reason for the suspension.  TMEP §716.05.

What can our Company do to Advance our Application?

  • Accumulate evidence about the Applications involved with the suspension
  • Seek competent intellectual property counsel
  • Determine best options for success in advancing the Company’s Application toward a Federal Registration
  • In the United States, before the USPTO grants a Registration, the Applicant must provide evidence of either interstate or international use of the Mark
  • Trademark Suspension Notices can create a convoluted path to federal Registration

Need More Help?

Business Patent Law, PLLC represents and has represented clients owning suspended Trademark Applications before the USPTO. If you need legal assistance in preparing and prosecuting and Patent and Trademark Applications, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses, companies and individuals.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.