The United States Patent and Trademark Office recently released its TTAB filing and performance statistics for the fiscal year 2015.
While there have not been any substantial deviations from 2014 filing statistics, the recent Supreme Court decision in B & B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc. will most likely result in an increase in the number of trademark opposition proceedings instituted in the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. This is due to the fact that trademark opposers may now perceive the TTAB to be a superior forum in which to contest a trademark applicant’s right to register, and ultimately use, a trademark in commerce.
Trademark Trial and Appeal Board Filings – FY 2015
The following is a breakdown of relevant TTAB filings for the fiscal year 2015, with percent changes over FY 2014 filing figures indicated in parentheses:
- Trademark oppositions: 5,290 (-4%)
- Trademark Cancellations: 1,763 (+2.3%)
- Extensions of time to oppose: 17,132 (-1%)
- Appeals: 2,992 (+7%)
As one can see, with the exception of the number of appeals filed, there has been little change in year over-year filing volume between FY 2015 and FY 2014. The number of trials for the year was 123 compared to 132 in FY 2014.
Of particular note is the low number of cases decided under the TTAB’s accelerated case resolution program (ACR). Once touted as a less costly and more streamlined alternative to traditional proceedings, there were only 10 cases decided under ACR procedures in FY 2015. Even more surprising in the negligible difference between the pendency of normal cases vs. ACR proceedings, with the average total pendency of trial cases being 161.2 weeks versus 138.6 weeks for ACR cases.
The volume of trademark opposition case filings will be watched closely in FY 2016 to see if predictions come true as to whether there will be an increase in notice of trademark oppositions filed by brand owners seeking to take advantage of the strategic ramifications of the B & B Hardware decision.