TMEP 1201.03(b): Wholly Owned Related Companies

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1201.03(b)    Wholly Owned Related Companies

Related-company use includes situations where a wholly owned related company of the applicant uses the mark, or where the applicant is wholly owned by a related company that uses the mark.

Frequently, related companies comprise parent and wholly owned subsidiary corporations. Either a parent corporation or a subsidiary corporation may be the proper applicant, depending on the facts concerning ownership of the mark. The USPTO will consider the filing of the application in the name of either the parent or the subsidiary to be the expression of the intention of the parties as to ownership in accord with the arrangements between them. However, once the application has been filed in the name of either the parent or the wholly owned subsidiary, the USPTO will not permit an amendment of the applicant’s name to specify the other party as the owner. The applicant’s name can be changed only by assignment.

Furthermore, once an application has been filed in the name of either the parent or the wholly owned subsidiary, the USPTO will not consider documents (e.g., statements of use under 15 U.S.C. §1051(d) or affidavits of continued use or excusable nonuse under 15 U.S.C. §1058) filed in the name of the other party to have been filed by the owner. See In re Media Cent. IP Corp., 65 USPQ2d 1637 (Dir USPTO 2002) (holding §8 affidavit filed in the name of a subsidiary and predecessor in interest of the current owner unacceptable); In re ACE III Commc'ns, Inc., 62 USPQ2d 1049 (Dir USPTO 2001) (holding §8 affidavit unacceptable where the owner of the registration was a corporation, and the affidavit was filed in the name of an individual who asserted that she was the owner of the corporation).

Either an individual or a juristic entity may own a mark that is used by a wholly owned related company. In re Hand, 231 USPQ 487 (TTAB 1986).