The Post-COVID Trademark Landscape: USPTO Backlog and Approaching Fee Increases Drive Urgency for Applicants

The Post-COVID Trademark Landscape: USPTO Backlog and Approaching Fee Increases Drive Urgency for Applicants

By Andrew Comer

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) experienced significant backup and processing delays during the COVID-19 pandemic. While delays have eased, they still haven’t gone away, due in part to the doubling of applications between 2020 and 2022. Overall, the trademark registration process has become notably more challenging in recent years, but there are ways to ease the burden. 

Number of Applications Continues to Rise While Processing Times Continue to Lag

Despite receiving more than 1.6 million trademark applications in 2022 alone, the USPTO is not rushing to rubber-stamp applications. Instead, they are maintaining their usual rigorous review of applications for various issues, including conflicts with existing registrations and prior-filed applications. 

Additionally, trademark attorneys have anecdotally noticed what appears to be a more challenging set of circumstances at the USPTO: a significant number of new examining attorneys and a more stringent view of which applied-for marks are likely to create confusion with already-registered marks.  These factors likely add to the slowdown of application processing and an uptick in application rejections over the pre-COVID period. In March of 2024, the USPTO shared that it was currently reviewing applications submitted in June of 2023, with the average wait time for registration or resolution being nearly 15 months.

New Trademark Application Rules and Fee Increases Slated for 2025

Finally, the USPTO is set to finalize new, more complex rules and increase most fees (some significantly) starting in January 2025. The overall registration cost could increase significantly next year depending on the nature of an applicant’s application and the uniqueness of their mark.

We encourage people to prepare and submit trademark applications now based on the increase in applications, delayed (and seemingly more stringent) application processing, and the proposed fee increase in 2025. These circumstances also make it even more important that applicants hire experienced trademark counsel to craft, submit, and manage their application–doing so will expedite the process, increase the change of registration, and potentially lead to lower fees given the proposed new fee structure. 

How to Maximize Efficiency in Trademark Filings

Trademark applications can be lengthy and complex, so working with a trademark attorney who understands the nuances of crafting an application and anticipates the most common areas of pushback or questioning can significantly raise your chances of overcoming common hurdles and securing your trademark rights. The USPTO website itself states, “Although you are not required to have an attorney, we strongly encourage you to hire a U.S.-licensed attorney who specializes in trademark law to guide you through the application process.”

Although some applicants are concerned about hiring a trademark attorney to help them with their application, it’s surprisingly cost-effective. 

If you are considering trademark registration or protecting your business name, logos, or slogans in other ways, Fortis Law Partners is happy to help. Contact Andrew Comer for more information or to arrange a consultation.

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