On September 9, 2022, Andrew Price was quoted in Law360 on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's fight against trademark fraud following its August announcement that a Chinese company used the name of a lawyer as an attorney of record for more than 8,000 trademark applications and registrations without permission, and then continued using his name for more than 300 applications after he died in July 2021.
According to the article, the USPTO has been cracking down on fraudulent applications for a few years, especially those coming from China, which increased from roughly 5,100 applications in 2014 to more than 58,000 in 2018, according to a 2021 report by the agency. In 2019, the USPTO began requiring foreign companies to be represented by U.S. attorneys in trademark matters and for domicile addresses to be listed on the applications.
Many trademark practitioners are saying that, while laudable, the USPTO's efforts have not yet been entirely successful in addressing cases of fraud, and that some applicants—especially Chinese entities—can still slip through the cracks. "Chinese parties looking to 'game' the system have historically been one step ahead of the USPTO, finding new ways to exploit it," Price told Law360.
To date, the USPTO has issued 35 sanctions orders and four show cause orders in 2022 alone—with 27 sanctions orders that came down in August—an increase from the three sanctions and three show cause orders in all of 2021. The year before that, no sanctions orders were issued, but in 2020 the agency churned out 533 show cause orders.
Though the agency has been "gaining ground"—evidenced by the recent increase in sanctions orders—it likely needs to continue to evolve and issue the "strongest possible sanctions" as fraudsters find new ways to get around the system, according to Price.
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