TMEP 803.03(b): Partnership, Joint Venture, or Other “Firm”

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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803.03(b)    Partnership, Joint Venture, or Other “Firm”

After setting forth the applicant’s name and entity, the application of a partnership or a joint venture should specify the state or country under whose laws the partnership or joint venture is organized. 37 C.F.R. §2.32(a)(3)(ii). In addition, domestic partnerships must set forth the names, legal entities, and national citizenship (for individuals), or state or country of organization (for businesses), of all general partners or active members that compose the partnership or joint venture. 37 C.F.R. §§2.32(a)(3)(iii), (iv). These requirements apply to both general and limited partnerships. They also apply to a partnership that is a general partner in a larger partnership. Limited partners or silent or inactive partners need not be listed. The following format should be used:

“_____________________, a (partnership, joint venture) organized under the laws of _______________, composed of ______________ (name, legal entity, and citizenship of individual partner; or name, legal entity, and state or country of incorporation or organization of juristic partner).”

In the case of a domestic partnership consisting of ten or more general partners, if the partnership agreement provides for the continuing existence of the partnership in the event of the addition or departure of specific partners, the USPTO will require that the applicant provide the names, legal entities, and national citizenship (or the state or country of organization) of the principal partners only. If there are more than ten principal partners, the applicant need list only the first ten principal partners. If there is no class of principal partners, the applicant may list any ten general partners.

Upon the death or dissolution of a partner or other change in the members that compose a domestic partnership, that legal entity ceases to exist and any subsequent arrangement constitutes a new entity, unless the partnership agreement provides for continuation of the partnership in the event of changes in partners. This same principle also applies to joint ventures. See TMEP Chapter 500 regarding changes of ownership.

The rule requiring names and citizenships of general partners seeks to provide relevant information in the record, given the legal effects of partnership status in the United States. Because the USPTO does not track the varying legal effects of partnership status in foreign countries, and the relevance of the additional information has not been established, the same requirement for additional information does not apply to foreign partnerships.

The term “firm” is not an acceptable designation of the applicant’s entity, because it does not have a universally understood meaning. The examining attorney must require a definite term such as “partnership” or “joint venture” when it is necessary to identify these entities.

See TMEP §803.03(k) regarding limited liability partnerships.