The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board recently released its TTAB filing statistics for fiscal year 2018. These updated figures include year-to-year changes in the filing of appeals, notices of oppositions, and petitions for cancellations. It also provides useful information on the disposition of cases.
Highlights include the following: (percentage in parentheses signifies change over 2017)
- Appeals: 3,223; (+2%)
- Extensions of time to oppose: 19,208; (+3.9%)
- Oppositions: 6,496 (+5.5%)
- Cancellations: 2,253 (+7.2%)
II. Contested Motions
- # of decisions issued: 1,082 (+9.2%)
- # of motions resolved by decision: 1318 (+6.5%)
- Average pendency: 9.4 weeks (+20.5%)
- # of cases with motions awaiting decision: 165 (+12.2%)
III. Trial Cases and Appeals Pendency
- Appeals: 35.8 weeks (-7.8%)
- Trial Cases: 140.3 weeks (-10.8%)
- ACR Trial Cases: 106.3 weeks (-11%)
- # of ACR Cases decided: 19 cases
- Awaiting decision at end of period: 130 cases (+39.8%)
These most recent TTAB statistics yield some interesting observations:
- TTAB litigation is increasing. Opposition and cancellation proceedings are up on average approximately 6% combined. This could be due in part to greater brand enforcement efforts being undertaken as a result of a stronger economy. With regard to cancellations, the USPTO has made it quite clear that “deadwood” registrations that contain goods or services that are no longer used are subject to cancellation either in whole, or in part. Therefore, the increase in both opposition and cancellation filings could be for offensive as well as defensive purposes.
- There is increased motion practice. Although both the Board and the Federal Rules encourage the just and speedy resolution of contested proceedings, and for both parties to cooperate fully, this sadly is not always the case. While it cannot be proven, the failure to cooperate often results in protracted proceedings, including greater motion practice and higher attorney’s fees.
- TTAB is focused on speedier resolution of cases. The TTAB has made a commitment to several things that will help shorten the inter-partes cases lifecycle, including encouraging the parties to stipulate to Accelerated Case Resolution (ACR) procedures, engage in mandatory discovery conferences where settlement options are explored, and further mandate the cooperation between counsel.
Editor’s Note: Parties are encouraged to protect their trademark rights at all times. This is best done through proper monitoring and enforcement. Should a trademark opposition or trademark cancellation proceeding be necessary to enforce a brand owner’s rights, it is recommended to speak with a qualified trademark attorney experienced in TTAB proceedings.