A trademark registration issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is a valuable asset to a trademark owner in view of the substantial statutory benefits, advantages, and remedies it provides. A federal registration provides statutory notice to the public of the trademark it represents and the USPTO maintains a register of all trademark registrations. In its role as gatekeeper, the USPTO strives to ensure the integrity of the register and to clear away any “dead wood” registrations for trademarks that have been abandoned. The USPTO views its gatekeeper role as a benefit to the public in that the removal from the trademark register of registrations for abandoned trademarks (1) reduces the unnecessary blockage of future trademark applications and (2) maintains the integrity of the register to provide notice of existing trademark rights to the public.
Insurance Companies are Increasingly Excluding Coverage for Copyright and Trademark Infringement Actions
Most companies obtain one or more insurance policies to help limit the company’s risk. A commercial general liability policy (or “CGL policy”) is arguably the most common insurance policy that companies obtain. CGL policies are often thought to provide broad protection to a company for various risk factors. This coverage includes things often outside the company’s control (e.g., things that happen just because the company is “in business”). Many companies rely on these insurance policies to provide coverage to defend against frivolous lawsuits, including those brought by trademark and copyright “trolls” whose primary purpose is to make money through litigation. Without insurance coverage, a company that is met with a (threatened) lawsuit is left to pay extensive attorneys’ fees for a legal defense, and/or must concede to the extortion of the plaintiff (which usually entails paying for a settlement, plus relinquishing other rights that negatively impact the company).
Your business may at some point find itself in the unfortunate position of facing an allegation that it is infringing another’s patent. The situation can be even more aggravating if you believe that the subject patent is obvious or not novel and therefore wrongfully issued. You can defend against an allegation of patent infringement by challenging the validity of the patent in a civil suit before a court of law. A patent carries a presumption of validity, which can only be overcome by clear and convincing evidence. That places a high burden on you to invalidate the patent in the lawsuit.
Starting September 1, the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has instituted a pilot program to help you preserve your trademark registration if new technology replaces the format under which the underlying goods or services identified under the registration are offered for sale or provided to consumers.