Paving the way for a trademark bullying clearinghouse
The USPTO’s study into trademark litigation tactics failed to shed any new light on the issue of bullying, but a public meeting has been set to discuss the potential role IP associations can play in providing legal education programs on trademark policing. At the same time, a new initiative aims to establish a trademark bullying clearinghouse. The first challenge will be defining when enforcement becomes bullying.
Earlier this year, the USPTO published its study into trademark litigation tactics. As reported in WTR, the study came under fire from trademark practitioners. Critics argued that it was too narrow in its sampling and did not really provide a true sense of how prevalent bullying is, with Julia Huston, chair of the trademark group at Foley Hoag, stating that “the study did not tell us anything that we did not already know. The study revealed that some people think that over-aggressive trademark enforcement is a problem, and some do not.”
However, a number of recommendations were laid out. Amongst these were encouraging the private sector to provide free or low-cost legal advice to small businesses via pro bono programs and IP rights clinics, and to offer legal education programs focused on trademark policing measures and tactics.
The USPTO has now announced a public meeting to consider how such legal education programs can be conducted, but in the five months since the study’s publication, others have also looked at how to address this emotive issue.
One is Lara Pearson, chair of the trademark team at Rimon Law Group and author of the Brand Geek blog, who has announced the ‘Brand Bully Basement’ to “try to fill the mandate from the USPTO's report”. First unveiled on the eTrademarks list serv hosted by Carl Oppedahl, Pearson is currently finalising an advisory board for the service and told WTR she has identified four main goals for what she hopes will become a clearinghouse for cases of trademark bullying:
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