[This guest post was written by Kira-Khanh McCarthy, a law clerk in the Trademark Group at Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C.]. The USPTO held an online public meeting of the Trademark Public Advisory Committee (TPAC) on October 30, 2020. The agenda and list of speakers may be found here.

During the TTAB portion of the presentation, Chief Judge Gerard F. Rogers provided the following information:

With regard to the vacancy announcement for the hiring of TTAB judges, the submission period is now closed.  The Board is in the process of reviewing applications to create a list of the best qualified candidates.  The list will be maintained and used to fill available positions moving forward.

The TTAB issued 43 precedential decisions in FY2020 amounting to a 13% increase from FY2019.  As always, the Board remains committed to publishing precedents on the issues its stakeholders find important, insofar as those issues appear in the cases themselves.

New appeals were up from FY2019 while filings for an extension of time to oppose and notices of opposition are down.  Interestingly, although petitions to cancel have increased in FY2020, the Chief Judge noted that this is the slowest increase in this type of petition in the last four years.  It is unclear whether the slower increase is due to a change in the direction of incoming filings or is an effect of the economic conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Board set high pendency and production goals for itself in FY2020.  In the end, the pendency for contested motions was above target range, but this is likely because a number of undocketed motions were discovered in the fourth quarter.  Interlocutory attorney decisions and the number of resolved motions increased this fiscal year.  Additionally, administrative trademark judges increased production.  While there was a surge of trial and appeal cases in FY2019, this seems to have been a bubble since the total number of cases decreased in FY2020. Nonetheless, the average end-to-end processing times for appeals remains under one year. By the end of FY 2020, there were 136 cases awaiting decision, 30% of which were inter partes cases.

Finally, the TTAB Reading Room replaced the e-FOIA webpage on August 1st.  In the reading room, anyone may search TTAB precedential and final decisions and orders.  So far, comments received have been positive, but the Board encourages more feedback as it is already working on enhancements.

Read comments and post your comment here.

TTABlogger comment: Kira served as an extern at the TTAB during this spring, her last semester at Notre Dame Law School.

Text Copyright Kira-Khanh McCarthy and John L. Welch 2020.