This summer, we’re not just experiencing hot weather — it’s also a hot time for trademark applicants! Since fall of 2020, the USPTO has seen a trademark application surge the likes of which have never been seen before from US and foreign applicants. 2020 saw 92,608 applications total, up 172% from 2019. By June of this year, the increase in applications was 63% up from last year’s reported trademark applications.
It’s suspected that the rise in e-commerce and the move away from 9-to-5 jobs and towards entrepreneurship during the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the surge. Whatever the reason, it’s created a sense of “now or never” urgency in those who might be interested in applying for trademarks. Businesses with new brands are rushing to trademark them before anyone trademarks something similar, while businesses who have never thought to trademark their brand are quickly reconsidering.
What does this trademark surge mean for your brand?
Many trademark applicants are new businesses who want to trademark their brand from the outset so as not to have to worry about it later on. This is a smart business plan, and it can save you the trouble of having to deal with cease and desist letters if someone develops a brand like yours…or finding yourself defenseless if someone takes your brand.
However, the surge in trademark applications means that it’s more and more likely that someone may apply to trademark a brand that’s similar to your own. If they get to it first, that could block your application. If you’re having a logo professionally designed, it can be a risk to spend the money on the design only to have to design something new if your application is blocked.
Now more than ever, it makes sense to have a comprehensive trademark search and written opinion prepared prior to using your brand to determine if you may be infringing the rights of others. While many trademark applicants decide to take a chance and see if the USPTO identifies a potential conflict, that strategy is even worse than before. Using your brand without a search increases the possibility that someone could sue you for trademark infringement that you didn’t know you were committing.
Not all businesses trademark their brand from the get-go. For some businesses, they want to focus on getting off the ground first and gaining brand recognition. Maybe your business has begun to take off steadily and your brand is becoming more and more recognizable, but you still haven’t trademarked it. If that’s the case and you’ve begun to consider protecting your brand, it’s probably a good idea to do so sooner rather than later.
Like applicants filing to protect their new brands, you’ll face a higher risk of other trademark applications that might block yours. Of course, if you have years of experience in business, you may have the backing to fight the blocked application, showing evidence that you have been using the brand since before the other application was submitted. However, this can be very costly and taxing on top of your other responsibilities in running a business.
There are two main things you can take from the news of this surge. The first is not to wait to apply for your trademark! The longer the surge goes on, the more risk that someone will apply for a trademark that blocks your application, so it is truly a matter of first come, first serve. The other takeaway is that you should have a professional IP expert at your side who knows how to navigate these exciting, urgent times in trademarking!
The attorneys at Garcia-Zamor have over two decades of experience when it comes to IP law and the expertise and confidence to help you protect your brand, in this time in any other. Worried about contesting applications or how to protect your brand if someone else uses it? We have a flat fee litigation plan that can help you budget for your legal expenses and enjoy peace of mind in your brand protection. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to protect our own intellectual property.