What is Trademark Appeal ?
When a trademark examining attorney finds a problem with your trademark application (whether a substantive legal problem or a procedural issue), the USPTO will issue what is referred to as an initial Office Action. You may respond to the Office Action by submitting arguments and evidence in support of your registration, detailing all the reasons why your application should be approved. If your response does not resolve the problems with your application, then the examining attorney will issue a Final Refusal, stating that your arguments were not persuasive.
When the examining attorney issues a Final Refusal Office Action, you have the option to file a trademark appeal with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). Whereas the application is initially reviewed by the examining attorney, your appeal will be decided by a panel of three administrative trademark judges.
Your Notice of Appeal must be submitted within six months of the Final Refusal’s issuance. Unlike during the regular Office Action response process, there are no extensions of time for a missed deadline. If you do not file your Notice of Appeal within six months, your application will be abandoned and you will not be able to petition to revive.
Once the TTAB receives the Notice of Appeal, you will receive a schedule of deadlines, including the date by which you must submit your Appeal Brief. This brief gives you an opportunity present your arguments and evidence to the TTAB judges. The arguments in the Appeal Brief may be similar to those in your Office Action response, but there are also many procedural rules you must file when appealing to the TTAB. Failure to comply with the rules may result in automatic dismissal of your appeal.
After you have submitted your trademark Appeal Brief, the examining attorney will have time to submit his own Examiner’s Statement to attempt to counter your arguments and convince the TTAB to uphold the refusal. You will then have the option of submitting a Reply Brief to specifically rebut any of the arguments raised by the examining attorney.
Once all the briefs have been filed, you will decide whether to submit on brief (the entire argument done on paper) or if you'd like to request an oral argument. Oral arguments are relatively rare because they require significant additional legal fees and travel expenses. Most appellants prefer to submit on brief and waive the oral hearing.
Assuming you decide to submit on brief, you should expect a decision within about 2-3 months from submission of the examining attorney's brief. If you decide to submit a Reply Brief after reading the Examining Attorney’s brief, this would add another 2 months to the final disposition.
The TTAB will then review the entire record and make a decision. If the TTAB rules in your favor, your trademark application will be allowed to proceed to registration. However, if the TTAB uphold’s the examining attorney’s Final Refusal, then your trademark application will become abandoned unless you appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
If you have received a Final Refusal or have questions about the process, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our attorneys have significant experience in the TTAB appeals process, including an attorney who had a perfect TTAB success rate while an Examining Attorney at the USPTO.