On March 31, 2020, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced that, pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, certain deadlines for patent and trademark applications would be extended. The CARES Act authorizes the PTO to toll, waive, or modify any patent or trademark deadline in effect during the COVID-19 emergency. The announcements were made in written Notices of Waiver, one each for patents and trademarks, posted on the PTO’s website.

In order to exercise the power under the CARES Act, the PTO Director must determine that the COVID-19 pandemic materially affects the functioning of the PTO; prejudices the rights of patent applicants, trademark registrants, or patent/trademark owners; or prevents patent applicants, trademark registrants, or patent/trademark owners from making a filing or paying a fee in the PTO.
Continue Reading Patent, Trademark, and Copyright Deadlines Extended Due to COVID-19

Call me a pessimist, but it was surprising to me when I recently checked the USPTO trademark database that I did not find an application to register “Social Distancing” for some other novelty item.  (It is also surprising that the tag #socialdistancing has only 159,000 uses on Instagram.) Nevertheless, I am sure some entrepreneurs will use it on a t-shirt or coffee mug, file a trademark application for “Social Distancing” and then try to prohibit others from using the term.  Chances are, however, that this entrepreneur will not be successful.

The trademark examiner assigned to an application to register SOCIAL DISTANCING will likely refuse registration because it fails to function as a trademark because it merely conveys an informational message. Where a term is merely informational, the context of its use in the marketplace would cause consumers to perceive the term as merely conveying an informational message, and not a means to identify and distinguish goods/services from those of others.
Continue Reading Stay Away; No Trademark for Social Distancing and other Informational Terms