You have the option of filing an appeal with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) when the trademark examining attorney issues a final refusal to federally register your trademark. For example, let’s say you file a trademark application and the trademark examining attorney sends you an office action refusing registration of your trademark on the basis that it is likely to cause confusion with another mark that is already registered. In order to attempt to overcome the rejection, you research, prepare, and submit arguments and evidence to the Trademark Office pointing out all of the differences between the two marks and detailing why your trademark application should be approved. A few weeks later, you receive a response from the trademark examining attorney indicating that he did not find your arguments persuasive and that he is now making his refusal to register your trademark final.
You are now in the position to appeal the trademark examining attorney’s decision to the TTAB. The notice of appeal (along with the proper filing fee) must be submitted within six months of the final refusal being issued. The most efficient way of filing and paying for the appeal is through the ESTTA system.
Once the notice of appeal has been acknowledged by the TTAB, it will mail out a proceeding schedule notifying you of some important deadlines. The first deadline is the date by which you must file your appeal brief. The appeal brief gives you the opportunity to coherently organize and present all of your arguments and evidence to the TTAB. However, there are many rules with which you must comply and failure to do so may result in automatic dismissal of your appeal. You will want to carefully read the TTAB Manual of Procedure and the Rules of Practice if you choose not to work with an experienced trademark attorney.
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After your appeal brief is filed, the trademark examining attorney (representing the Trademark Office) will have time to prepare and submit his own brief. The trademark examining attorney will try to counter all of your arguments and evidence in the hope of convincing the TTAB to uphold the refusal to register your trademark. Once the trademark examining attorney’s brief has been filed, you have the option of submitting a reply brief to specifically address any of the points raised by the trademark examining attorney.
Once all briefs have been filed, the TTAB will review the entire record and make its decision. In the event the TTAB rules in your favor, your trademark application will be allowed to continue through the trademark registration process. On the other hand, if the TTAB sides with the trademark examining attorney, your trademark application will go abandoned unless you further appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (which is very expensive and unlikely to be successful).
If you have received a final refusal from the Trademark Office and are considering appealing the decision to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, please give me a call for your free legal consultation. I look forward to hearing from you soon.