Trademark Modernization Act of 2020: Part 1

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The Nuts and Bolts of Expungement and Reexamination

You may remember our blog post here, discussing the Trademark Modernization Act of 2020, which became law at the end of last year.  To implement the Trademark Modernization Act, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has proposed changes to the trademark rules of practice, which we begin to explore in the following post.  Over the coming weeks and months, stay tuned for further commentary, insights and practice tips on these proposed changes!

According to Commissioner for Trademarks David Gooder, during a recent USPTO virtual roundtable event, “protecting the integrity of the US trademark register is, and will remain for some time, one of our top priorities.”  Keeping the register clear of improperly obtained trademark registrations helps ensure that legitimate businesses can register their marks with the USPTO, and enforce those rights against infringers.

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USPTO Embracing New Possibilities with AI

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While the legal industry is typically not known as being cutting edge when it comes to adopting innovative technologies, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is taking big steps forward on seeing whether artificial intelligence (AI) may be used during patent and trademark examination to create greater efficiency and consistency with respect to certain routine, high-volume tasks. AI, a technology that refers to “smart” machines that simulate human intelligence, is being examined in many industries to potentially eliminate redundant and routine tasks, and the USPTO is trying to determine whether AI is right for it. Does this mean that future USPTO examiners will be more like C3PO? No. But AI could handle more-routine tasks, which would allow examiners to focus on more-substantive matters related to the examination of trademark and patent filings.

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Counterfeiting: Why Crime Doesn’t Pay

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Based on a recent restitution submission prepared by Faegre Drinker, a federal judge in Harrisburg, Pa. awarded Eli Lilly and Company $1.9 million in restitution from an individual convicted of trafficking in drugs bearing counterfeit trademarks of Lilly and other pharmaceutical companies. The defendant in this matter was sentenced to 70 months in prison and ordered to pay $3.6 million in restitution, the remainder split between the other companies based on the defendant’s conduct involving their trademarks.  In this instance, crime clearly didn’t pay for the defendant and success was achieved by partnering with our client to fight counterfeiting and illegal importing.  So how does this work?

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ABCs of NFTs: A Bright Future for the Arts or Just a Flash in the Pan?

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Ever since the artist known as Beeple1 sold an NFT of a digital collage for over $69 million at Christie’s mid-March 2021 auction, everyone in the art world — and in other communities — has been talking about NFTs. Depending on whom you listen to, NFTs are the future of art and will bring long-hoped-for transparency and accountability to the art market. Or they are a dangerous fad. Or they are “nothing sandwiches” that provide something to purchase with cryptocurrency that otherwise just sits unused in digital wallets.

So what the heck is an NFT? NFT is short for “nonfungible token”; an NFT has been defined as a digital certificate of ownership or a digital record of a transaction. The record is “minted”, i.e. created, using blockchain technology that is stored over a decentralized computer network rather than in a centralized registry. And NFTs are purchased using cryptocurrency, most often Ethereum.

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