TMEP 608.01: Actions by Unauthorized Persons Not Permitted

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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608.01    Actions by Unauthorized Persons Not Permitted

37 C.F.R. §11.5(b)(2) Practice before the Office in trademark matters.

Practice before the Office in trademark matters includes, but is not limited to, consulting with or giving advice to a client in contemplation of filing a trademark application or other document with the Office; preparing and prosecuting an application for trademark registration; preparing an amendment which may require written argument to establish the registrability of the mark; and conducting an opposition, cancellation, or concurrent use proceeding; or conducting an appeal to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

An individual who is not authorized under 37 C.F.R. §11.14 to practice before the USPTO in trademark cases (TMEP §§602–602.03(e) ) is not permitted to represent a party in the prosecution of a trademark application, in the maintenance of a registration, or in a proceeding before the USPTO. 5 U.S.C. §§500(b), (d); 37 C.F.R. §§2.17(a), 11.14(a), (e).

An individual who does not meet the requirements of 37 C.F.R. §11.14 cannot: prepare an application, response, post-registration maintenance document, or other document to be filed in the USPTO; sign amendments, responses to Office actions, petitions to the Director under 37 C.F.R. §2.146, requests to change the correspondence address, or letters of express abandonment; authorize issuance of examiner’s amendments and priority actions; or otherwise represent an applicant, registrant, or party to a proceeding in the USPTO. See TMEP §§611.03–611.03(i) regarding signature of documents filed in the USPTO. Presenting an amendment to an application and submitting legal arguments in response to a refusal are examples of representation of the applicant or registrant. 37 C.F.R. §11.5(b)(2); TMEP §611.03(b). However, a non-practitioner employee of a qualified practitioner may work under the supervision of the practitioner to prepare documents for review and signature by and assist the practitioner in trademark matters before the USPTO. 37 C.F.R. §11.5(b).

When an applicant or registrant is represented by a qualified practitioner, the USPTO encourages the practice of direct communication with the appointed practitioner. Although paralegals and legal assistants may relay information between the examining attorney and the appointed practitioner, they are not authorized to conduct business before the USPTO. For example, paralegals and legal assistants cannot authorize issuance of examiner’s amendments or priority actions, even if only conveying the appointed practitioner’s approval by indicating that the appointed practitioner has approved the amendment or action.

Once the USPTO recognizes a qualified practitioner as representing an applicant or registrant, a new qualified practitioner from a different firm is not permitted to represent the applicant or registrant until the applicant or registrant revokes the power of attorney of the previously recognized practitioner, or the previously recognized practitioner withdraws. TMEP §604.03.

An individual who is not authorized under 37 C.F.R. §11.14 may transmit and receive correspondence. Such an individual may also sign a verification on behalf of an applicant or registrant, if he or she meets the requirements of 37 C.F.R. §2.193(e)(1) (e.g., has firsthand knowledge of the facts and actual or implied authority to act on behalf of the applicant or registrant (see TMEP §§611.03(a), 804.04)).

Any individual, whether a practitioner or non-practitioner, who presents a document to the USPTO (whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating the document) is subject to 37 C.F.R. §11.18(b). 37 C.F.R. §2.193(f); see TMEP §611.01(a).

If a USPTO employee suspects that an individual who does not meet the requirements of 37 C.F.R. §11.14 is engaging in widespread unauthorized practice by representing applicants or registrants, he or she should bring the matter to the attention of the Administrator for Trademark Policy and Procedure in the Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Examination Policy.

See TMEP §§611–611.06(h) regarding signature of documents filed in the USPTO.