When served with a Notice of Opposition or Petition for Cancellation, it is the first inclination of many parties to consider not hiring a trademark lawyer in an effort to save money. Is representing yourself in a trademark opposition or trademark cancellation proceeding a wise investment? Probably not.
The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) is the administrative body of the United States Patent and Trademark Office that decides ex parte appeals, oppositions, trademark cancellations, and concurrent use proceedings. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board permits parties to represent themselves, but strongly cautions that being represented by a qualified trademark attorney is advisable given the complexity of trademark opposition and trademark cancellation proceedings. If a party decides to represent itself, it will be expected to adhere by all rules of procedure that govern trademark opposition and trademark cancellation cases before the Trademark Board. These rules may be found in the Trademark Board Manual of Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence. The failure to follow the rules can have a detrimental impact and be fatal to a party’s case.
If a party receives a notice of trademark opposition or petition for cancellation, it is required to file an answer within 40 days of commencement of the case. The answer should either admit, deny, or claim that there is insufficient knowledge to either admit or deny the allegations contained in each paragraph of the notice of opposition or petition for cancellation. A party can also receive an extension of time in which to file its answer to a notice of opposition or petition for cancellation by seeking an extension from the opposing party or its attorney, or by filing a request with the Board.
Time limits for filing notices of opposition, petitions for cancellation, and requests for extensions of time are strictly enforced. If a trademark deadline is missed, it is important to file a motion to accept the late filed request with the Board, showing good cause to set aside the missed deadline.
It is always advisable to speak with an experienced trademark opposition lawyer or trademark cancellation lawyer as a first step in proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. A skilled trademark attorney will be able to discuss the potential strengths and weaknesses of your case, as well as possible alternatives to costly litigation.