Last updated on June 9th, 2020
Here are 10 facts every entrepreneur should know about the USPTO Trademark Letter of Protest system and the fight against questionable trademarks:
- A Letter of Protest is a way for anyone to oppose the trademark registration of terms they believe may harm competitors.
- Anyone — living anywhere! — can file a Letter of Protest. No age, citizenship, or business ownership requirements. You just have to care.
- More than 5 protests against the same application will be disregarded. (This is why I recommend you coordinate efforts with a group.)
- Filing is free and takes 15-30 minutes for a “pre-pub protest.” “Post-pub protests” take much longer.
- The best time to submit a Letter of Protest is the day the application is filed. The next best time is now (for pre-pub protests) or before the opposition deadline (for post-pub protests).
- If 30 days have passed since the application was Published for Opposition (noted on the “Status” page of TSDR), it is too late to file a Letter of Protest.
- You are the linchpin in USPTO’s refusal of questionable trademarks that affect your business. It is your responsibility to inform them of facts specific to your industry that may affect outcomes, and their responsibility to review those facts in light of case law. Don’t sit on your hands and then complain when you don’t like the outcome.
- When it comes to print-on-demand, you’ve got to pay to play. Time invested in understanding and fully using the Letter of Protest system will save you money by avoiding unnecessary product losses and attorney fees.
- CLASSES NOTE: The guidelines provided on this site mostly pertain to applications for trademark registration of terms in physical product or print-on-demand classes such as (but not limited to) 009, 014, 016, 025. They must be adapted for restaurants, hotels, business services, and so on (notes specific to IC 035, online retail services, are included here).
- Fake Specimen Reports are an alternative way to share important information with USPTO. If the specimen is a mock-up, a fake specimen report should be submitted (in addition to a Letter of Protest, if appropriate).