Noel Paterson is based outside of Seattle, WA and has a long career with large technology companies, including experience at Sun Microsystems, Microsoft and Amazon. He is currently attending University of New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce School of Law through their hybrid program.
Protecting brands and going after counterfeiters is like herding cats. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways that online counterfeiters illegally monetize brands. Companies have many ways to combat them, but it can traditionally take lots of time, cost, and resources to do it. Now there is a less publicized option in the United States which can deter counterfeiters, takes little time, and often even pays for itself. This ultimately can result in true deterrence of counterfeiters for a brand in online marketplaces. With online sales exploding, there has been a marked increase in sales of counterfeit products, despite various solutions available to combat it. Indeed, the industry as a whole will see over $1.7 trillion of sold counterfeit products on various online platforms each year—and that estimate, by the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, was in 2015. Counterfeit sales result in the loss of millions of U.S. jobs and lost profits, and is by far the world’s largest criminal enterprise, with eCommerce counterfeit sales expected to grow to $6 trillion by 2024 in the United States alone.
Recently, USPTO Commissioner for Trademarks David Gooder wrote on the USPTO Director’s Forum Blog that registrations for U.S. trademarks are up 63% from the same period in 2020. The USPTO received over 92,600 trademark applications in December 2020 alone. This has caused delays in a number of stages in the trademark process, including a current pendency of 75 days (as of July 5, 2021) for the Pre-Examination Unit of a TEAS application. This is compared to a ten-day target. The USPTO also reached a dubious milestone in Q4 2020, breaking the 1 million mark in pending applications, with 1,002,768 in the queue. This has affected trademark registrants from the very beginning of the application process. First Action Pendency (months) in Q1 of 2020 was 2.8 months. For Q1 2021, the pendency was up to 4.0 months, with Q2 trending to almost five months for First Action. Delays like these affect the ability of trademark owners to protect their brands, could cause an increase in consumer confusion and impact the value of legitimate trademarks.