Clinic Students Propose USPTO Reforms to Discourage Frivolous Trademark Oppositions

Clinic student attorneys Charles Frank and Breanne Hoke, in conjunction with students from the Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic at the University of Colorado Law School and the Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Clinic at Suffolk University Law School, embarked on a policy effort aimed at discouraging frivolous claims in trademark opposition proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). The collaborative clinic effort seek to combat both trademark bullying and trademark trolling through administrative reform.

In March 2015, the students met with several representatives of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at its headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, where they provided the agency with a “one-pager” that outlined the team’s proposals. The one-pager included a proposal for a “second look” review, an intermediary step between the examination and opposition proceeding stages that would act as a simple, fast, and cost-effective way of addressing frivolous lawsuits and allow a party to note the vigorous defense of its trademark.

In May 2015, the students submitted a white paper to the agency as a follow-up to the March meeting. The white paper expands on the  “second look” review, and provides a comprehensive strategy for employing the review should the USPTO choose to adopt it.  The clinics plan to follow up with the agency on next steps.

White Paper

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