The United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") has recently reiterated its commitment to stemming the tide of inaccurate and fraudulent trademark applications originating primarily from China. On May 9th, the Director of the USPTO, Andrei Iancu, testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, and fraudulent foreign trademark applications took center stage. Specifically, Director Iancu acknowledged that the number of fraudulent applications is "an increasing problem" noting that the USPTO has done "a number of things and can do more" to stem the tide of fraudulent applications.

What steps is the USPTO taking to identify and prevent fraudulent applications?

Director Iancu in his testimony and statement to the Subcommittee identified the following:

  • Piloting software capable of detecting altered photographs submitted as specimens of use;
  • Increasing the number of post-registration maintenance filing audits; and
  • Providing training to trademark examiners to identify and more closely scrutinize suspicious specimens.

Additionally, Director Iancu's statement highlighted the importance of the proposed rule published in February requiring U.S. counsel to represent foreign-domiciled trademark applicants, noting that "the rule would enable the USPTO to more effectively use available mechanisms to enforce foreign applicant compliance with statutory and regulatory [trademark] requirements."

While the USPTO has not yet provided details regarding the steps being taken to detect and prevent fraudulent applications, we are monitoring the USPTO's efforts and will provide more details as they become available.

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