US Trademark Backlog in the 1Q 2018?

There’s been reports about a huge number of applications, originating from China. See e.g. this WJ article at https://www.wsj.com/articles/flood-of-trademark-applications-fromchinaalarms-u-s-officials-1525521600.

Then, is there a backlog created by the increase of Chinese trademarks?

I had a chance to look at the dates of applications filed on behalf of my clients from 3Q to 4Q of ’17 and to figure out what’s going on.

Legal examination of a trademark application starts after about three months from the filing date, and depending on the assigned examiner and the result of the examination, it can take a month to many months. I felt in 3Q and 4Q of ’17, the examination process moved slower than before, comparing 1Q and 2Q of ’17, but it might’ve be just coincidental.

When an examination is completed, there’s a notification that sets forth the publication date in about 20 days. That waiting period for publication has been more or less consistent from 4Q of ’17 to 1Q of ’18.

After the application is published in the Official Gazette, If there’s no opposition during next 30 days, the application moves on to the process of being registered. This registration process usually took about 6 weeks in 4Q of 2017 and about the same time in 1Q of 2018.

So, what’s the conclusion? If there’s a backlog, it must be on the legal examination part of the process as you probably guessed. And unfortunately, the examination process is one of the trickiest part to tell how long it usually takes, rendering our survey inconclusive.

By Young Jeon, Esq.

J.D. Chicago-Kent College of Law; Georgia & Illinois Bar Member; USPTO Registered Patent Attorney