605.01 Requirements for Power of Attorney
37 C.F.R. §2.17(c) Requirements for power of attorney.
A power of attorney must:
- (1) Designate by name at least one practitioner meeting the requirements of §11.14 of this chapter; and
- (2) Be signed by the individual applicant, registrant, or party to a proceeding pending before the Office, or by someone with legal authority to bind the applicant, registrant, or party (e.g., a corporate officer or general partner of a partnership). In the case of joint applicants or joint registrants, all must sign. Once the applicant, registrant, or party has designated a practitioner(s) qualified to practice under §11.14 of this chapter, that practitioner may sign an associate power of attorney appointing another qualified practitioner(s) as an additional person(s) authorized to represent the applicant, registrant, or party. If the applicant, registrant, or party revokes the original power of attorney (§2.19(a)), the revocation discharges any associate power signed by the practitioner whose power has been revoked. If the practitioner who signed an associate power withdraws (§2.19(b)), the withdrawal discharges any associate power signed by the withdrawing practitioner upon acceptance of the request for withdrawal by the Office.
A power of attorney must: (1) designate by name at least one individual qualified practitioner; and (2) be signed by the individual applicant or registrant or someone with legal authority to bind a juristic applicant or registrant (e.g., a corporate officer or general partner of a partnership). In the case of joint applicants or registrants, all must sign. 37 C.F.R. §§2.17(c), 2.193(e)(3). See TMEP §611.01(c) regarding signature of documents transmitted electronically.
If a power specifies only the name of a law firm, the USPTO will treat it as a correspondence address rather than a power of attorney. See TMEP §§609–609.04 regarding the correspondence address.
A qualified practitioner cannot sign an original power of attorney on behalf of his or her client. An original power of attorney, other than one associating an additional attorney with an already recognized attorney (see TMEP §605.03), must be signed by the individual applicant or registrant or someone with legal authority to bind a juristic applicant or registrant (e.g., a corporate officer or general partner of a partnership).
However, the filing of a power of attorney is not mandatory in a trademark case. Thus, if a power of attorney is signed by an improper person (e.g., by the named attorney) and no other qualified practitioner has been previously appointed, the USPTO generally will not require a properly signed power. If the improperly signed power of attorney is accompanied by a document that is signed by a qualified practitioner or includes the name and address of a qualified practitioner, the USPTO may recognize that qualified practitioner under 37 C.F.R. §2.17(b), separate and apart from the improperly signed power. See TMEP §604.01 regarding the three ways that a qualified practitioner may be recognized as a representative, TMEP §609.01 regarding establishment of the correspondence address in a new application, and TMEP §609.02(a) regarding the limited situations in which the USPTO will change the correspondence address to that of a qualified practitioner absent a written request to change the correspondence address.
Example: If the original application contains the name and address of a qualified practitioner (e.g., the “Attorney” section of a TEAS application contains the name and address of an attorney from a United States firm or a Canadian attorney or agent who has been recognized by the OED Director), and the application includes a power of attorney signed by the named practitioner, the USPTO will disregard the improperly signed power. However, the USPTO will recognize and correspond with the named qualified practitioner, pursuant to 37 C.F.R. §2.17(b).
However, if an applicant or registrant is already represented by a qualified practitioner, and a new qualified practitioner wishes to take action with respect to the application or registration, the new qualified practitioner must file a new power of attorney or revocation of the previous power, signed by the individual applicant or registrant or someone with legal authority to bind a juristic applicant or registrant (e.g., a corporate officer or general partner of a partnership), before the USPTO will accept filings by or correspond with the new qualified practitioner. 37 C.F.R. §2.18(a)(7). See TMEP §604.03 regarding change of attorney, and TMEP §606 regarding revocation of power of attorney.
If two or more qualified practitioners are named in a power of attorney and one practitioner changes firms, any of the named practitioners can sign and submit a notice of change of correspondence address setting forth a new address, even if the new address is at a new firm. It is not necessary to submit a new power signed by the applicant or registrant when a named practitioner changes firms. See TMEP §§609.02–609.02(f) regarding changes of correspondence address.
To expedite processing, the USPTO recommends that powers of attorney be filed through TEAS, at http://www.uspto.gov. When powers of attorney are filed through TEAS, the data is automatically entered into the USPTO’s automated records.