The USPTO has been in existence (in some form) since 1802 and it is only now getting around to registering its own trademarks. So why has the USPTO decided to protect their marks this late in the game?
Trademark Scammers are Becoming More Sophisticated
As we previously reported in this blog post, trademark scammers are popping up everywhere and they’ve become more sophisticated. The scams use names and logos similar to the USPTO’s name and logo. They are effective because the scams are able to tap into publicly available information about trademark owners and send letters that include very specific information that appears legitimate. For example, some scams advise that a trademark renewal is due, when in fact it is not.
According to David Gooder, Commissioner for Trademarks, in a blog post on the USPTO’s website, “…we realized we require the additional legal protections afforded the owner of a federally registered trademark in light of the rapid increase in sophistication of those unlawfully passing themselves off as the USPTO. We firmly believe that it’s never too late to do the right thing, and doing everything within our power to protect our trademark customers is the right thing.”
The hope is that by federally registering their marks, the USPTO will be able to “…take the appropriate legal action as needed to protect the USPTO brand from improper use by those trying to impersonate or falsely claim affiliation or endorsement with the USPTO.”
Gooder also spoke about previous actions taken to combat scammers. “The USPTO has taken several proactive steps to protect trademark applicants from being victimized by these opportunists, including alerting users to known scammers by posting a list on the USPTO website, working with law enforcement when appropriate, and sanctioning filers that violate USPTO rules.”
The Four Trademarks Filed by the USPTO
The USPTO filed a total of four trademark applications. You can click each link to view the applications and associated documents.
- USPTO United States Patent and Trademark Office logo
- USPTO logo
- United States Patent and Trademark Office
The Trademark Registration Process for the USPTO’s Applications
The USPTO acknowledges the “intrigue and irony for filing for federal registration of the USPTO marks…with the USPTO. It’s a big reason why the Department of Commerce is filing the application on [their] behalf, just as it has for its other bureaus.” The applications will then follow the standard trademark registration process, by being assigned to a USPTO examining attorney, who will come to their own determination of registration status.
With these applications, the USPTO joins the ranks of other federal agencies, such as the IRS, EPA, FDA, Department of Homeland Security, and many others, who also own federal trademark registrations. “While there is no one-size-fits-all strategy to address illicit or misleading activity of scammers, we are committed to keeping our customers well-informed and fighting these scams,” said Gooder.
Gooder, David. uspto.gov. “Protecting our trademark customers with federal registration of USPTO marks.” 05 August 2021.