On Dec. 18, 2021, regulations implementing the Trademark Modernization Act of 2020 (TMA) went into effect. Trademark owners and practitioners should be aware of the new procedures and ensure they are ready for the changes.
Our posts “Three Things to Know About the Trademark Modernization Act of 2020” and “The Trademark Modernization Act of 2020: New Rules and Procedures” from March and May 2021, respectively, gave an overview of the changes that will be implemented with the act. Most notably, the TMA provides for new procedures to challenge trademark registrations based on nonuse – expungement, and reexamination. It is intended that the new ex parte expungement and reexamination proceedings will be faster and more efficient alternatives to cancellation procedures before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. You can read the final rule here.
Another significant change is the requirement for filers to verify their identity with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). This is part of the USPTO’s efforts to protect the integrity of the register and combat fraudulent filings, which have been on the uptick. Beginning in early 2022, the following must verify their identity with the USPTO using one of the verification options that includes an electronic process by ID.me
Trademark owners and corporate officers not represented by an attorney, US-licensed attorneys (including in-house counsel), and Canadian attorneys or agents are required to verify their identity. Paralegals and other support staff working for an attorney must be sponsored by a verified attorney. Trademark owners who are represented by an attorney do not currently need to verify their identities to sign electronic forms sent by their attorney; however, if the representation by that attorney ends, the owners will need to submit to the verification process.
It is important that trademark holders and practitioners prepare for these new policies and procedures to ensure they can complete filings on a timely basis.