Over the past year, many media outlets have reported on the USPTO’s recent findings regarding fraudelent trademark specimens, and what impact they can have on the overall trademark system. Eric Perrott has extensively documented this issue in an article for the ABA Journal’s Landslide publication. In it, he discusses the issues that fradulent specimens presents for both the government and brand owners, potential reasons for the recent increase, and efforts that have been undertaken to combat this problem and prevent unnecessary delays for practitioners and registrants.
Here are some paraphrased excerpts from Mr. Perrott’s article for ABA Journal Landslide:
“Over the past year, there has been an unprecedented increase in the number of United States trademark applications with international applicants, and with them an epidemic of specimens that are seemingly legitimate on their face but turn out to be fraudulent. While specimen issues have been a problem for many different types of trademark applications in the past, the recent influx of applications with fraudulent specimens share several similarities, from their country of origin down to the format of their trademark applications.”
“On its face, the increase of doctored specimens would not seem to be overly burdensome or problematic. However, trademark registration brings with it many valuable benefits and “confers important legal rights and benefits on trademark owners who register their marks.”
“The methods for detecting fraudulent specimens highlight the crux of the USPTO’s problems: photo-manipulation solutions are expensive and time-consuming, and require specialized skills in order to consistently catch. […] However, while computer algorithms may help save time, manual analysis of the photos for lighting anomalies, artifacts from resizing and editing, and other forensic techniques are still needed to detect fakes in many circumstances. Those techniques, mixed with knowledge of preexisting fraudulent specimens, can help effectively identify doctored specimens.”
Source: Perrott, E. “Doctored Trademark Specimens at the USPTO: Analysis of the Plague of Fake Specimens Threatening to Undermine the Principal Register”. Landslide, vol. 11, no. 1, 2018.