1106.02 Action by Examining Attorney After Issuance of the Notice of Allowance
If, after issuance of the notice of allowance but before submission of the statement of use, the USPTO determines that a clear error (see TMEP §706.01) was made in approving the mark for publication, the USPTO will cancel the notice of allowance and return the application to examination. The examining attorney will issue an appropriate Office action that includes the relevant requirement or refusal and informs the applicant of the cancellation of the notice of allowance. See TMEP §1106.03 regarding cancellation of the notice of allowance.
After the notice of allowance issues, the examining attorney has jurisdiction to act in the case. 37 C.F.R. §2.84(a). Therefore, the examining attorney does not have to request jurisdiction to take an action, as would be required after publication but before the notice of allowance issues. See id. However, after a notice of allowance issues, the examining attorney should not make a refusal or requirement that could or should have been made during initial examination of the application unless the initial failure to make the refusal or requirement was a clear error. If the examining attorney determines that he or she must make a refusal or requirement after issuance of the notice of allowance that could or should have been made during initial examination, the examining attorney must consult with his/her managing attorney or senior attorney before taking the action. This must be done whether the action is to be taken before, during, or after examination of the statement of use, and regardless of whether the notice of allowance is cancelled. This applies to any refusal that arguably could or should have been made during initial examination, such as most refusals under §2(d) or §2(e)(1) of the Act.
Neither the Trademark Act nor the Trademark Rules of Practice restrict the USPTO from issuing a new requirement or new refusal at any time prior to registration. The USPTO has a duty to issue valid registrations and has broad authority to correct errors made by examining attorneys and other USPTO employees. See Last Best Beef LLC v. Dudas, 506 F.3d 333, 340, 84 USPQ2d 1699, 1704 (4th Cir. 2007) (“[F]ederal agencies, including the USPTO, have broad authority to correct their prior errors.”); see also BlackLight Power Inc. v. Rogan, 295 F.3d 1269, 63 USPQ2d 1534 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (concluding that USPTO officials acted within their authority to withdraw a patent from issuance in order to fulfill the USPTO’s mission to issue valid patents, even after issuance of a Notice of Allowance, payment of the issue fee and notification of the issue date, and with publication of the drawing and claim in the Official Gazette).
Thus, if the USPTO discovers that a mistake was made during initial examination that would result in issuance of a registration in violation of the Trademark Act or applicable rules, the USPTO must issue any necessary requirements or refusals, even if they could or should have been raised during initial examination.
See TMEP §1109.08 regarding the issuance of refusals and requirements during examination of a statement of use.