17 November 2020TrademarksSarah Morgan

USPTO fees hike to start next year after pandemic delay

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has announced it will increase certain trademark fees, including trademark filings and Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) filing fees, from January 2021.

The increases were meant to come into effect in August this year, but the USPTO delayed the implementation because of the “impact of the pandemic, uncertainty about the economy, and stakeholder feedback”.

“The USPTO has weighed carefully current economic conditions and the potential hardship that the fee increase could create for businesses and individuals,” said the USPTO’s final rule, published on the Federal Register today, November 17.

It added that the office had “undertaken many efforts to provide various types of relief”, including deadline extensions and fee postponements.

New applications provide the majority of the USPTO’s trademark revenue, but the initial costs to examine applications exceed the revenues from those applications, the office said.

“These examination costs have been increasing over the years while the USPTO has kept filing fees low enough to encourage broad public participation in the trademark system by offsetting examination costs with revenues generated with intent-to-use (ITU) and maintenance filings,” said the final rule.

The office is receiving record levels of new trademark application filings, largely driven by Chinese filers.

WIPR recently investigated this unprecedented growth in trademark applications, which raises questions around the future legitimacy of US trademarks and brands.

These record levels of applications carry with them larger front-end examination costs, explained the USPTO, while the percentage of ITU and maintenance filings are decreasing, resulting in less back-end revenue.

“With larger net costs that are not being offset by back-end revenue, the USPTO would be unable to maintain an operating reserve, which puts the office on an unsustainable funding model,” said the office.

“While the USPTO is observing a surge in filings at present, given past experience, we expect a future decline to bring filings in line with the underlying economic dynamism.”

The office added that it had received some comments urging it not to raise any fees. However, the USPTO rejected this alternative, stating that a fee increase is needed to meet future budgetary requirements.

TTAB filing fees have been increased for ten types of existing fees, including initiating opposition proceedings and cancellation proceedings. Six new filing fees have also been established.

“The new and adjusted fees are generally designed to recover more of the costs of TTAB procedures, reduce the extent to which they are subsidised by other trademark fee collections, and advance policy objectives,” said the office.

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More on this story

2 November 2020   An unprecedented growth in trademark applications at the USPTO, largely driven by Chinese filers, has been welcomed as a positive sign of economic recovery amid the pandemic. But it raises questions around the future legitimacy of US trademarks and brands. Muireann Bolger reports.
15 April 2020   US lawmakers are concerned that a reduction in trademark filings could impact the operations of the US Patent and Trademark Office.