Wednesday, October 03, 2007

USPTO to have trademark exhibit

The United States Trademark and Patent Office has announced that it will hold an exposition in Alexandria, Virginia from April 10-12, 2008. Companies or other entities with registered trademarks may apply to become exhibitors. The applications will be evaluated as to how well the exhibitor would be able to educate the public on the value of brand and on the appropriate use of the trademark concept. Potential exhibitors would be notified Jan. 15, 2008.

There are future details and an application link on the USPTO home page.

The uspto website has, for a number of years, offered consumers the ability to check wordmarks online. There is an information page that indicates how recently the online database was updated. There are disclaimers to the effect that only a manual search at the office would be definitive. In practice, however, the “Search TM database (TESS)” and “Free Form Search” (Advanced Search) are quite effective and reliable. The searches do not appear to be case or punctuation sensitive, and one can find similar combinations of words. There is a problem when the distinguishing mark is at the end of a phrase (“.. for Dummies” witn IDG books). The site warns about excessive bandwidth use.

The USPTO also announced that it has published guidelines to improve patent quality. The announcement is here:. The rules appear to have expanded the patent application process and allowed more claims per application. Here is the link:

Another important link is “Claims and Continuation Practice: The Final Rule”

Update: Oct. 8, 2007

The Washington Post has an important editorial on patent law reform here, p A16 in print in today's paper. It says that Pharmaceutical companies are particularly vigorous in defending intellectual property patent rights, whereas software companies prefer a more liberal interpretation (which sounds like a paradox) in allowing weaker patents. Low quality patents tend to increase litigation.

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