Shortly after filing a trademark application, with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or with another non-US, government trademark agency, a growing number of our clients inevitably receive one or more official-looking letters or invoices seeking payment related to the trademark registration. You may have received one of these notices in the mail or via email yourself—a solicitation, formatted to look like an official government document, that lists data about your trademark application and even an image of your trademark (all of which is publicly available information). Many of these companies use terms that resemble an official agency name including one or more of the terms “United States,” “U.S.,” “Trademark,” “Patent,” “Registration,” “Office,” or “Agency.” The truth is, these solicitations have absolutely no legal or other significance to your trademark registration.
What’s in a name? The answer to that question might determine whether a mark that includes someone’s surname is eligible for trademark registration. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has shed some light on when a mark with a surname is—and isn’t— egistrable as a trademark.
In the Oil States decision handed down today, Justice Thomas authored the 7-2 majority decision affirming the constitutionality of IPR proceedings over challenges based on Article III separation of powers and the 7th Amendment Right to Trial by Jury. Depending upon which camp you are in, this will be seen as either generally favorable (petitioners) or generally unfavorable (patent owners).