1201.02(b) Application Void if Wrong Party Identified as the Applicant
An application must be filed by the party who is the owner of (or is entitled to use) the mark as of the application filing date. See TMEP §1201.
An application based on use in commerce under 15 U.S.C. §1051(a) must be filed by the party who owns the mark on the application filing date. If the applicant does not own the mark on the application filing date, the application is void. 37 C.F.R. §2.71(d); see Huang v. Tzu Wei Chen Food Co., 849 F.2d 1458, 7 USPQ2d 1335 (Fed. Cir. 1988); Conolty v. Conolty O'Connor NYC LLC, 111 USPQ2d 1302, 1309 (TTAB 2014); Great Seats, Ltd. v. Great Seats, Inc., 84 USPQ2d 1235, 1244 (TTAB 2007).
If the record indicates that the applicant is not the owner of the mark, the examining attorney should refuse registration on that ground. The statutory basis for this refusal is §1 of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. §1051, and, where related company issues are relevant, §§5 and 45 of the Act, 15 U.S.C. §§1055, 1127. The examining attorney should not have the filing date cancelled or refund the application filing fee.
In an application under §1(b) or §44 of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. §1051(b), §1126, the applicant must be entitled to use the mark in commerce on the application filing date, and the application must include a verified statement that the applicant has a bona fide intention to use the mark in commerce. 15 U.S.C. §§1051(b)(3)(A), 1051(b)(3)(B), 1126(d)(2), 1126(e). When the person designated as the applicant was not the person with a bona fide intention to use the mark in commerce at the time the application was filed, the application is void. Am. Forests v. Sanders, 54 USPQ2d 1860, 1864 (TTAB 1999), aff’d, 232 F.3d 907 (Fed. Cir. 2000) (holding an intent-to-use application filed by an individual void, where the entity that had a bona fide intention to use the mark in commerce on the application filing date was a partnership composed of the individual applicant and her husband). However, the examining attorney will not inquire into the bona fides, or good faith, of an applicant’s asserted intention to use a mark in commerce during ex parte examination, unless there is evidence in the record clearly indicating that the applicant does not have a bona fide intention to use the mark in commerce. See TMEP §1101.
When an application is filed in the name of the wrong party, this defect cannot be cured by amendment or assignment. 37 C.F.R. §2.71(d); TMEP §803.06. However, if the application was filed by the owner, but there was a mistake in the manner in which the applicant’s name was set forth in the application, this may be corrected. See TMEP §1201.02(c) for examples of correctable and non-correctable errors.
See TMEP §1201 regarding ownership of a §66(a) application.