P&A 2020 Highlights

It is hard to believe that one month of the New Year is already finished! We are excited for all of the potential opportunities, the new and interesting projects that come our way each year, the new people we get to meet, the new information that we come across, and so much more. We also enjoy working with returning clients and acquaintances we have made in the business. It is always exciting to get each new engagement because it gives us opportunities to help our clients and discover new information about new inventions, what is happening in the market, and so much more. We love what we do and we enjoy learning daily! As such, we would like to highlight our favorite moments of 2020.

Our projects last year covered a number of topics, including spirits, cloud analysis, online auto parts, family-based prevention programs, concrete, autonomous vehicles, plastic recycling, hyperspectral imaging, paper recycling, telematics, auto insurance, pork, LED lighting, DNA sequencing, point-of-care diagnostics, hybrid engines, welding gas, graphene, Internet of things, energy harvesting, thermal conductivity, refueling techniques, gaming, tobacco, and more. As you can see, we get to enjoy a variety of different topics, which keeps our jobs exciting at all times. We learn something new every day! We also get to teach others about our work, assist clients in the courtroom, provide valuable analytics, and so much more.

While the pandemic limited travel in 2020, we were still able to attend webinars, offering our knowledge, experience, and skills on various IP valuation topics. For instance, we worked with UK-based law firm Lewis Silkin on a webinar series titled “IP Valuation – A Primer.” P&A gave an introduction to the valuation of various IP forms based on topics in headlines and our professional valuation experiences. In this presentation, we highlighted credible approaches for building IP valuations for a variety of purposes. We also worked with the ASA on its Fair Value Virtual Conference regarding the “Impact of Recent Cases on the Fair Value of Technology.”

Although we did not get to enjoy our regular team outings, we were able to come together safely at the end of the year to celebrate our team. We were treated to a gourmet meal prepared by our talented company president. After a year of global uncertainty, we were happy to connect and express our appreciation for the company, the team, and the work that we do.

While 2020 was certainly not a typical year for anyone, we are proud about our ability to adapt well and continue to provide excellent services. We can’t wait to see what 2021 brings!

5 Reasons for Trademark Denials During Pandemics

As promised in our last newsletter, we discuss in this article five reasons the USPTO denies trademarks related to pandemics. Pandemics create many emotions, drive, and perceived opportunities, causing people and organizations to apply for trademarks. However, many reasons exist as to why they do not work out. Click “Read More” to discover five reasons for denied trademarks.

The COVID-19 pandemic, along with other unprecedented events in 2020, affected people worldwide. As such, the USPTO experienced heightened trademark applications, especially regarding the pandemic. While many people envisioned monetary benefits with the potential approval of a granted trademark, the USPTO will likely deny or has already denied trademarks associated with the global pandemic. The following lists five common reasons the USPTO denies trademark applications regarding universal events, such as pandemics:

  • It is offensive: One of the reasons so many people rush to file for trademarks of a new term, even the name of a pandemic, is because there is much hype surrounding it. However, pandemics cause fear and an overall negative connotation. Nobody wants to be reminded of a terrible and fearful time, especially one that causes human loss. COVID has affected hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, causing death, hardship, and so much more. Therefore, it is likely that a trademark application pertaining to a pandemic will be denied based on ethical reasons.
  • It is not tied to a specific product or service: Trademarks are meant to help consumers differentiate products and cut down on search costs. As such, many of the trademarks applied for regarding the pandemic do not promote a specific product that helps consumers differentiate said product from others. Rather, people want to use words associated with the pandemic to place on items such as hats, cups, shirts, and the like. But, the words do not make the products a unique, distinctive brand because they are commonplace.
  • Misconception exists that the first to file “wins”: Many people rush to file a trademark associated with global events before they even know what they will use it for or without the intent to use it because they think that the first to file will win the trademark. However, in the United States, the first to use wins the trademark, as long as certain criteria is met. Therefore, without the intent to use or prove use, the USPTO will certainly deny the trademark application.
  • Pandemics do not last forever: As with everything in life, nothing lasts forever, including a pandemic. As such, the hype eventually dies down and the event becomes an afterthought before long. People move on to other events, concerns, and changes in life. Therefore, terms associated with big events such as a pandemic begin to wan and fewer people talk about them. People get bored eventually and the words don’t hold as much significance once the shock factor dies down and the fear subsides. Even if the USPTO were to approve a trademark, the pandemic could well be over. Many people who file for trademarks during a pandemic plan to use those terms for marketing purposes only during the pandemic. However, the purpose of a trademark is to stand the test of time, not just a certain timeframe. A trademark is distinctive.
  • The term is too common or generic: It is difficult to trademark words and phrases associated with a pandemic because trademarks are meant to differentiate products or services. It is especially difficult when such events are global affairs because everyone uses the terms, making it impossible to tie those terms to a specific product or service. Rather, people think about the actual pandemic from which those terms originated. As such, anytime people see, speak, or hear the terms, they think about the events behind them, not a product or service. Therefore, they become generic and commonplace terms, which cannot be trademarked.

The trademark process takes effort, time, and money. Essentially, it is risky to file for something that is likely not to grant. Pandemics involve negative connotations including death, fear, financial hardships, and even changes in livelihood. Therefore, on a social and moral level, applying for trademarks to capitalize on a deadly pandemic is likely a waste of time.