Monthly Archives: October 2017

News story: Changes to the trade mark search tool

Earlier this year, as part of ongoing work to our digital services, we implemented changes to our online trade mark search service. The functionality of the three search options stayed the same, but their look and style was changed, especially to the search by word, phrase and or/ image.
We introduced tabs to categorise details with the option to also ‘display content without tabs’.

Your feedback informed us that having the search pages default to the tab based layout, resulted in not enough information being shown. This added additional clicks to the user journey meaning it took longer to find information.

To rectify this, if you choose to ‘display content without tabs’, your browser will now remember your choice on your next visit. You can also revert back to ‘displaying content with tabs’ at any time.
Additionally, we have made the following changes:

  • selecting ‘Open all’ will expand all the case classes and terms – your browser will remember your choice on your next visit

  • you will now have the ability to copy and paste the trade mark logo / text if you choose to ‘display content without tabs’

  • when displaying content without tabs, series marks are displayed vertically on a single page

  • selecting ‘New search’ from the trade mark case details page will now return you to the ‘Search for a trade mark’ start page, enabling you to select a different search method.

  • when you start a new search from the ‘Search for a trade mark’ start page your browser will now clear all the terms you entered for a previous search

We would welcome your feedback

Source: UK IPO News

Something Spooky This Way Comes – Strange, Weird and Unsettling IP

A blog post about the USPTO from the Department of Commerce.

Americans will spend an estimated 9.1 billion dollars on Halloween this year, and yet many trick-or-treaters remain unaware that this holiday is crawling with countless examples of intellectual property (IP), from the registered trademarks protecting the candy you eat and the costumes you wear, to the utility and design patents behind the tools to carve pumpkins or manufacture Halloween decorations. As in past Octobers, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) uses social media as a fun and timely way to educate the public about the importance of IP and how it impacts their everyday lives.

Seven years ago, the USPTO decided to explore the deepest and darkest corners of more than two centuries worth of patent and trademark archive to unearth some particularly Halloween-appropriate patents and trademarks, in a campaign that became known as “Creepy IP.” Whether it’s the trademark for Ghostbusters®, Count Chocula® cereal, a sound mark for Darth Vader®, or patents for the electric extraction of poison or a flesh brushing apparatus from the 1880s, the USPTO’s public records are full of interesting inventions and commercialized products, some of which would fit right in at your local haunted house.

Since its initial launch in October 2011, the #CreepyIP hashtag remains one of the USPTO’s most successful interactive social media campaigns, with other federal agencies, private companies, the press, and members of the general public routinely using the hashtag to share the IP they find spooky, creepy or downright strange. This year, the USPTO has even gotten other international IP offices searching their archives for Creepy IP. 

USPTO Creepy IP Team

USPTO Creepy IP Team

Part of the USPTO’s mission is to educate the public about the importance of IP, and Creepy IP generates tremendous awareness by highlighting how patents and trademarks are ingrained in our daily lives. Innovation and creative endeavors are indispensable elements that drive economic growth and sustain the competitive (and sometimes creepy) edge of the U.S. economy. In turn, IP protection provides incentives to invent and protects innovators from unauthorized use of their creepy inventions. The importance of IP to our economy is illustrated by a major study by the Economics & Statistics Administration which found that in 2014, IP-intensive industries directly and indirectly supported over 45 million jobs (nearly a third of all U.S. jobs) and over 38% of our national GDP.

On October 31 at 9:30 a.m. ET, the kooky minds behind Creepy IP at the USPTO will be hosting a Reddit “Ask Me Anything.” Join the discussion to ask questions about the weirdest and most memorable creepy patents and trademarks that they’ve discovered over the years. Follow the USPTO on Twitter and Facebook for more spooktacular IP, and from all of us – Happy Halloween!

Source: USPTO

Police officer "wasted" second chance. Domestic violence and related publicity supports termination

Grievant began his employment as a police officer with the City of Coral Springs, FL in 2005. In 2010 he was arrested and convicted of two counts of battery on a detainee and his employment was terminated. An arbitrator subsequently ordered his reinstatement but found significant discipline to be warranted and awarded no back pay for the approximately two years he was off the job. He returned to employment in December 2013.

On April 22, 2015, while off duty, grievant was involved in a “heated argument” with his wife. During the course of the argument grievant punched a hole in the wall and used a crowbar to deflate the tires on his wife’s car.  Grievant was arrested for domestic battery and a “no contact” order was entered against him. The altercation was covered by the local news station, and the story included reference to his prior conviction and the current charge of domestic violence.

On April 28, 2015 a neighbor called 911 to report that grievant had entered the marital home. The Sheriff’s Office arrived shortly after grievant’s wife also arrived. The wife falsely informed the Sheriff’s officers that her husband was not on the premises. Nevertheless, a SWAT team was deployed  and remained on the scene after an initial aborted contact with grievant. There was conflicting testimony about the amount of further contact with grievant. Grievant claimed he had not been aware that the SWAT team was outside the house. The City maintained that local officers had talked and texted with grievant and informed him that SWAT was outside the house and had advised him to cooperate with the Sheriff’s officers. Ultimately grievant’s wife texted him and persuaded him to come out of the house. Grievant was arrested for violation of the no contact order and was formally served with a restraining order for the April 22 incident.

Once again, local news stations were on the scene throughout and took pictures of the deployed SWAT team.

In early May, grievant’s wife dropped all criminal charges against him and he was never convicted of domestic violence/battery.

Following an investigation, the City terminated grievant’s employment, and that action was ultimately submitted to Arbitrator Martin O. Holland for review.

Arbitrator Holland upheld the termination.  He noted initially the importance of public trust in its police officers:

Police Officers have a widespread respect from the general public. The public recognizes the significant hazards and risks police officers face every day. Police officers are the first line of defense from attacks or criminal conduct. A police career provides good wages, pension and benefits. Public trust is paramount as police officers provide service and protection to their citizens. 

Addressing the conflicting testimony, Arbitrator Holland found grievant’s claim that the had not been aware that the SWAT team was outside his residence “absurd.” He also found grievant’s testimony “flippant” and “pugnacious.” Reviewing grievant’s disciplinary history, the Arbitrator observed that following his earlier termination an arbitrator had reinstated him but found his past discipline “significant” and a “major infraction.” Nevertheless, that arbitrator had given grievant a “second chance” to save his career.

On the merits of the current discipline, Arbitrator Holland also addressed the fact that the conduct in issue had occurred while grievant was off duty. Notwithstanding that, the Arbitrator found discipline appropriate:

Generally, off-duty conduct is not a basis for discipline. ThyssenKrupp Budd Co., 121 LA 164 (Goldberg, 2005)   Arbitrators consistently hold off-duty conduct as outside an employer’s realm. However, because of the special nature of police employment, municipalities may impose discipline. Kitsap County, 118 LA 1173 (Gaba, 2003)   A police officer is always a police officer whether on or off duty. They often carry firearms and are expected to be a steward of public safety even off-duty. The City, here, enacted reasonable Rules and Regulations in General Order-4 spelling out the on-duty and off-duty expectations of its police officers.   Those rules and regulations are well-founded and universally applied throughout the United States. There is no surprise when a city enacts standards of conduct for both on duty and off duty conduct. Professional conduct is expected of all police personnel, 365 days per year and 24 hours per day. 

He also found that the absence of a criminal conviction was not dispositive of the grievance, noting that “Just cause is not defined by a criminal statute.”

Upholding the termination, Arbitrator Holland concluded that grievant had “wasted” his second chance, finding:

The City’s reputation was harmed by the actions of the Grievant. Widespread media reports of aberrant behavior by a police officer is conduct unbecoming.
 The seriousness of [grievant’s] infections of General Order – 4 warrants discharge. Multiple police calls, multiple arrests, and multiple investigations outweigh any mitigating factors. 

Arbitrator Holland’s award can be found here.

Source: ADR

Arbitrator finds no contractual basis for claimed "constructive resignation"

Arbitrator Bruce McIntosh upheld a grievance filed by the Dayton Education Association on behalf of a teacher whose employment was terminated because of her alleged “constructive termination.”

Grievant was involved in  an “altercation” with her principal which included “some physical interaction” between her and the principal. Following this altercation, grievant was placed on paid administrative leave. In May of 2016 the Dayton Board of Education notified grievant that it had received information that while on leave she had accepted employment with a local charter school effective April 1 of that year. The Board deemed the acceptance of a position with the charter school while grievant was on administrative leave a “constructive resignation.” It notified grievant that it was terminating the leave and would be seeking reimbursement for all payments it made to her after April 1.

The Association grieved this action, arguing that there was no contractual basis for a “constructive resignation,” that there was no prohibition on grievant accepting alternate employment while she was on leave, and that the District’s actions amounted to a termination without the procedural protections of the collective barging agreement and was without just cause. The Board maintained that in seeking and accepting a position with an incompatible work schedule grievant had “indisputably abandoned” her job with the Board of Education and that she therefore had constructively resigned her position. It asserted that it was therefore not required to show just cause or otherwise provide notice to the grievant.

Arbitrator McIntosh agreed with the Union. He noted:

       A review of the CBA reveals that there [sic] it does not deal with paid administrative leave nor with constructive resignation. Additionally, there was no evidence of any restrictions placed on Grievant while on Leave except that she could not report to work and her presence on school grounds would be considered trespass. To assert that her employment by the charter school prevented her from being available for work with her former employer with the direction by it not to venture on the school’s property, appears to be, at best, an anomaly.
       The Arbitrator is unable to finds any contractual basis for Grievant’s acceptance for a separate school contract to be “good and just cause” for termination pursuant to [the cba].

Arbitrator McIntosh ordered the School Board to pay grievant for whatever wages she did not receive for the balance of the school year, less any sums she received from the charter school. The Arbitrator’s award can be found here.
Source: ADR

Hot Topic: Corporate Social Responsibility


Murray_275_blog102017.jpgWith corporate social responsibility (CSR) increasingly on the minds of both consumers and brand owners, the International Trademark Association’s October 15 issue of the INTA Bulletin features an interview with Jessica Murray, Director of Intellectual Property and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at TOMS Shoes, Inc. The wide-ranging interview includes insight into TOMS’ well-known CSR program, which began with its “One for One” shoe program, and her role in INTA’s upcoming Brand Authenticity conference in Berlin, which she hopes will “reshape the way we look at our brands and CSR programs around the world.”  

Here are some excerpts:  

  • “TOMS is really about improving the lives of others through business. Today, our program is far more than shoe giving: we give water, sight [via prescription glasses or medical treatment], bullying prevention training, and safe birth training in over 70 countries. The program is rooted in this idea that we really need to push ourselves to do more to improve life through business and push others to do the same.”
  • “Today, a brand is asked to be more than just a logo or its intellectual property; a brand must define itself as an organization, and CSR initiatives become the heart and soul of this definition. TOMS’ social impact is part of its mission statement, but most companies today are being asked by consumers to acknowledge their social and environmental impact, putting a lens on the authenticity of the brand.”
  • “We want to reshape the way we look at our brands and CSR programs across the world with this [Brand Authenticity] conference … It’s going to be a unique and exciting program, but we wanted to do it in a way that is understandable to people who aren’t used to these cross-functions … We want small firms, brand owners, vendors, and whoever attends to take a more holistic view of authenticity.” 
  • “Brand owners [should attend this conference], but it’s not just for this group—law firms can bring back education to firms and clients, vendors can understand more about the challenges brand owners face and how to find solutions to them. There are attendees joining us who are experts, even pioneers in this field, while others are just starting to navigate these difficult questions. I see it as an olive branch in an effort to form a larger network to support each other as we push to find answers to these evolving brand authenticity questions.”

Category: Programs
Published: 10/20/2017 10:33 AM

Source: TM NEWS

Mind the Gap: Fixing the UK’s ADR Failures

On 17 October 2017, the UK’s Civil Justice Council’s ADR Working Group issued an uncompromising 98-page interim report featuring the word “fail” 40 times, “failure” 21 times and “failed” nine times.

The report is mercifully less ominous than the foregoing might suggest, deftly pulling together the threads of patchwork of the UK’s ADR coverage, and inviting responses by 15 December 2017.

Source: JAMS ADR

News story: Higher executive officer role available at the Intellectual Property Office

Candidates will gain exposure to a high profile and evolving policy areas, and will be a central part of ensuring that the IPO delivers the best outcome for the UK copyright framework in EU Exit negotiations.

The role will also include ongoing work on European negotiations on the Digital Single Market proposals and their future implementation, and future work on trade negotiations as a result of EU Exit. The post holder will act as a point of contact within the team for specific issues.

For more information about this role please take a look at the full job advert

Source: UK IPO News

INTA's Leadership Meeting: Exciting Educational Sessions


The switch of the Leadership Meeting from the warmer climes to a cooler Washington bring a refreshing change to a meeting that many attendees consider a more low-key, intimate gathering than the much larger Annual Meeting. 

With four days of educational sessions and networking opportunities this meeting is a great way to wrap up the 2016-2017 committee term and begin planning for the next year and implementation of INTA’s 2018-2021 strategic plan. 

A quick look at the program makes it clear that there are quite a few interesting sessions. One such session is The Impact of Plain Packaging and Brand Restrictions on IP Rights. The issue of plain packaging is gaining in both importance and concern, and a detailed discussion on the topic is highly relevant at this time.

The panel representing both industry and practice will consider the ramifications of Draconian plain packaging regulations, which are severely impinging on IP rights across several industries.

Governments in numerous jurisdictions have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, plain packaging regimes as well as more highly standardized packaging regulations, which makes this a timely discussion for trademark owners.  

In many cases, the argument boils down to health policy versus trademark rights. Any legislation that prohibits or severely restricts the use of trademarks and prevents them from fulfilling their functions in the market place is, in theory, detrimental to consumers, trademark owners, and the economic well-being (e.g. jobs) of society in general. 

The denial of trademark rights, including the denial of the right to use trademarks, violates the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) as well as the Paris Convention. Categorizing trademarks as a personal property right elevates them to the same level of respect as other forms of property rights and limits the government in its ability to restrict or forbid the use of marks.  

Plain packaging laws severely impair the functions of trademarks, create a dangerous precedent for other sectors, increase the risk of consumer confusion, violate international treaty obligations (as well as the laws of an individual jurisdiction), limit competition, and significantly increase the risk of counterfeit products being made available in the market.  We as a trademark community must object to overly restrictive measures that prohibit or restrict the use of trademarks and other brand imagery.

This panel takes place on Wednesday, November 8, 10:20 am – 11:20 am. The panel will look at the relevant case law. Although plain packaging judgments to date relate almost entirely to the tobacco industry, insight will be given to what is on the global stage with respect to further brand restrictions. The panel will also consider the impact of these restrictions and whether they are working or not. 

To discuss plain packaging, and other hot topics such as the Madrid Protocol, new gTLDs and influencing policy makers, please join us at the upcoming Leadership Meeting for what promises to be an excellent event.  

Published: 10/13/2017 4:57 AM

Source: TM NEWS

Spotlight on Commerce: Juan Valentin, Education Program Advisor, USPTO

Blog about the USPTO from the Department of Commerce

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting contributions of  Department of Commerce employees during Hispanic Heritage Month.

Guest blog post by Juan Valentin, Education Program Advisor, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

If you had told me ten years ago that in October of 2017 I would be traveling across the United States educating children and adults alike on how important intellectual property (IP) protection is for the development of our youth and nation, I would have laughed you out of the room. Growing up as one of the only Hispanics in a small, Upstate New York community, one thing that was always important in my life was my Puerto Rican ancestry. The music, food, culture and the family life-force was sewn into my soul at an early age. 

I started my career as a patent examiner, putting my engineering degree from Clarkson University to good use, examining patent applications in the field of optical measuring and testing devices. Two key events in my life were the catalysts that set me on my current career path. The first took place about five years into my USPTO career when a friend invited me to Langdon Elementary School in D.C. to make slime with third graders. This was for a program called RESET that takes volunteers and matches them with local elementary schools to do hands-on science and engineering activities with the students. My life was changed that day. I was hooked, first as a volunteer, then as an activity lead, then as a team lead who developed new activities and was responsible for finding new volunteers.

My mother had a huge impact on this change of direction. Some of my first memories are of her giving spirit, of the sacrifices she made for not only me but for those in need around her.  My mother not only worked in public service, she volunteered and as a single parent always had me at her side, helping with activities. For me, seeing the excitement, smiles, and appreciation on the students’ faces after doing educational activities brought back childhood memories of giving back to my community and it showed me there’s a need for this type of service in underrepresented communities. It reminded me of the potential my mom saw in other people and her willingness to help.

Juan Valentin (center) with students during Engineering Week

Juan Valentin (center) with students during Engineering Week

The second event came in 2009 when I co-founded the first ever U.S. federal government chapter for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) at the USPTO. Members of SHPE are a family. We take pride in helping new employees transition to the agency, while creating a community of learning here at the USPTO. As the SHPE President for past two years, I have really seen the impact of the organization over the last eight years, helping mentor and support Hispanic employees in their growth as leaders at the USPTO, while also giving back to the community. We’ve recently been focusing on ways to help the areas ravaged by the hurricanes, and have organized a donation drive for supplies to be sent to Puerto Rico. This year’s theme for Hispanic Heritage Month is “Shaping the Bright Future of America,” which is very fitting for the tremendous work I’ve been blessed to be a part of through SHPE.

In 2011, I applied for and was accepted to a detail to work on K-12 IP educational initiatives at the USPTO’s Office of Education and Outreach (OEO), for eight months. That eight months went by so fast I remember thinking, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could do this full time?” As my detail came to an end, a full-time vacancy was announced for an education specialist. I was determined to apply for the position and was hopeful that through my experiences I would be given the opportunity to help expand innovation, invention, and IP outreach at the USPTO. Life doesn’t always go as planned and I didn’t get the position, but I knew that showing students how to be innovative problem solvers and critical thinkers was my future; now I just needed to make it a reality. I was determined to build up my resume so I would be ready when the next opportunity opened up. My patience was well worth it; three years later another position became available and I was selected.

I still pinch myself from time to time when the fast pace of my life slows down just enough for a moment of self-reflection on the past three years. Not everyone is lucky enough to say they have their dream job. As an education program advisor at the USPTO, I can proudly say without a doubt, I have found my dream job, or rather it has found me!  My career advice to others is not to get discouraged by setbacks, but to be determined and pursue what you love to do.

Source: USPTO

Open consultation: Industrial Strategy: Intellectual Property Call for Views

As the government sets out its plans for an ambitious new industrial strategy, the IPO is seeking views to form part of our contribution to the next phase of the strategy. We are looking for your views on a range of specific ways we can get innovators to work together more effectively and get the most out of their IP.

The consultation will run for five weeks, closing on 8 November 2017.

Source: UK IPO News