When I first started practicing law, the only way to file anything with the USPTO was to snail mail a paper application (or other trademark related form). When a deadline was at stake, I would have to go to the post office for a date stamp from the post office as proof of filing date. When the first online filings were made available the filing system was primitive compared to what we have now, but it certainly made it easier than running to the post office at 4:59pm.
Well, times have certainly changed. Effective as of February 15, 2020, all USPTO trademark-related filing will take place exclusively online thanks to a new rule issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Electronic submissions will now be required for new trademark applications and any additional submissions associated with such applications and registrations. E-filing can be done through the USPTO’s online system called the Trademark Electronic Application System or “TEAS.”
The new rules also require that applicants and their attorneys must provide and maintain a valid email address for which they will receive all correspondence from the USPTO. A postal address will still be required as well in the event the email address on file does not work. P.O. Boxes will no longer be accepted.
Exceptions to Mandatory E-Filing
Under the new rules, paper trademark applications will be accepted under very limited such as technical issues with the TEAS system, or when submitting specimens for scent or flavor. The new rule also does not apply to applications under the Madrid Protocol or Section 66(a) of the Lanham Act, as initial applications under these circumstances are first received by the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and eventually forwarded to the USPTO.
USPTO’s Goals for Mandatory E-Filing
While statistics show that only .03% of trademark applications in 2018 were paper filed, the USPTO is hoping that a complete transition to electronic filing will help speed up processing times for trademark applications and reduce processing errors.
Filing a trademark with the USPTO can be tricky, but our trademark attorneys can help ensure that your initial application and supporting specimens are submitted properly according to these new guidelines. If you have questions about securing a trademark for your business or brand, please feel free to schedule an appointment with our intellectual property attorneys by calling 888-666-0062.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.