Hiring a U.S.-licensed attorney – United States Patent and Trademark Office


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Discover if you are required to hire an attorney and why you should hire an attorney, even if you are not required to.
It depends on the location of your domicile.
For more information about this, see the spring 2019 USPTO trademark rules change.
An attorney who is licensed to practice law in the U.S. and experienced in trademark law can advise you about many important legal issues. These include:
Did you know that if someone registers a similar trademark with the USPTO before you do, they can potentially block your trademark from registering? And that even when similar trademarks aren’t federally registered, they could ultimately prevent you from using and/or registering your trademark?
An attorney can let you know if your trademark should be available for your use and registration and decrease the possibility of you having costly legal problems by conducting a comprehensive clearance search for potentially conflicting trademarks and providing a legal opinion.
A comprehensive search includes searching the following sources for trademarks that could potentially conflict with yours:
This search occurs before filing your application.
It’s your legal responsibility to monitor and protect your trademark from infringement by other parties. An attorney can help you understand the legal scope of your trademark rights and advise you on the best way to monitor and enforce those rights. He or she can tell you specifically what to do if you discover other parties are using and infringing your trademark or if other trademark owners claim that you are infringing their trademarks.
After registration, an attorney can also help ensure that all required registration maintenance documents are timely and accurately filed, so you can maintain your registration for as long as you use your trademark.
If you disagree with an examining attorney’s final refusal to register your trademark, you can file an appeal of that decision with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB).
If a party believes that either they’d be harmed by registration of your trademark or your existing trademark registration should be canceled because it conflicts with theirs, they can challenge the registration of your mark by filing an opposition or cancellation proceeding with the TTAB. Likewise, you can challenge someone else’s trademark application or registration at the TTAB by filing an opposition or cancellation. Oppositions and cancellations are trial proceedings similar to litigation in federal court.
Appeals and opposition and cancellation proceedings all have specific procedures and strict deadlines. A U.S.-licensed attorney who is experienced in trademark law and knowledgeable about TTAB proceedings can navigate these often complex proceedings, present your best case or defense, and help you settle the dispute, if appropriate.
Our regulations specify that only an attorney who is an active member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of any U.S. state or territory can represent you in a trademark application, registration, or TTAB proceeding at the USPTO. Non-U.S.-licensed attorneys and non-attorneys do not meet this criteria and cannot represent you in a trademark matter at the USPTO.
Non-U.S.-licensed attorneys and non-attorneys may give you inaccurate information and legal advice about your trademark rights and the registration process in the United States. This could:
U.S. trademark law and USPTO regulations must be followed because they govern the trademark registration process before the USPTO, proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, and the conduct of attorneys who practice before the USPTO.
We take the unauthorized practice of trademark law very seriously. Your trademark submission can be rejected, or the legal validity of your trademark registration could be jeopardized, if you take advice or receive assistance from someone who is not authorized to practice law before the USPTO.
We also take very seriously the competency and conduct of attorneys who practice before the USPTO. All attorneys who practice before us are subject to our disciplinary jurisdiction and must abide by the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct. These require that the attorney:
The USPTO’s Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) handles allegations of misconduct by attorneys.
To find an attorney who can represent you before the USPTO in trademark matters, you can consult U.S. telephone listings or the internet, or contact the attorney referral service of a U.S. state or local bar association (see the American Bar Association’s Consumers’ Guide to Legal Help).
Make sure that the attorney you hire has experience prosecuting trademark applications at the USPTO and handling proceedings before the TTAB. The USPTO cannot help you select an attorney or recommend one.
Many private companies offer legal services, such as assistance with filings or responding to an office action, or other services. Such services may be legitimate if provided under the supervision of a licensed U.S. attorney. But many of these companies are not affiliated with licensed U.S. attorneys, and cannot lawfully provide such services. Some offer services of dubious value, such as for example, offering to record trademarks in a private registry.  
Check out our Scam awareness webpage and review the parties and filing firms listed as subject to USPTO’s Orders for Sanctions or listed as an entity responsible for Potentially Misleading Solicitations if you have a concern about a filing entity with whom you are working.
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