TMEP 803.03(d): Joint Applicants

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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803.03(d)    Joint Applicants

An application may be filed in the names of joint applicants or joint owners. Ex parte Pac. Intermountain Express Co., 111 USPQ 187, 187 (Comm’r Pats. 1956); Ex parte Taylor, 18 USPQ 292, 293 (Comm’r Pats. 1933). The terms “joint applicant(s)" or “joint owner(s)” reflects the relationship of multiple applicants as to a particular mark, but does not identify a particular type of legal entity in the United States. See Cent. Garden & Pet Co. v. Doskocil Mfg., Co., 108 USPQ2d 1134, 1148 n.25 (TTAB 2013). Therefore, the application must name each of the joint applicants, and must set forth the citizenship (or the state or nation of organization for a juristic applicant) of each of the joint applicants. 37 C.F.R. §§2.32(a)(2), (3); TMEP §§803.02, 803.03. The application may also state the joint applicant relationship; however, where an application identifies two or more individuals or entities as the applicant, and separately sets forth the citizenship or state of organization of each, the USPTO will presume that the entity is that of joint applicants, if the record is not otherwise contradictory. If, however, the legal entity is set out as “joint applicant(s)” or “joint owner(s),” the examining attorney must require each applicant to clarify the nature of its legal entity as an individual or juristic person.

An application by joint applicants must be verified by all the applicants, since they are individual parties and not a single entity. However, if only one of the joint applicants signs the verification, the USPTO will presume that he or she is signing on behalf of all the joint applicants, and will not require an additional verification or declaration, unless there is evidence in the record indicating that the party who signed the application was not in fact authorized to sign on behalf of all the joint applicants under 37 C.F.R. §2.193(e)(1). This does not apply to a response to an Office action submitted by joint applicants who are not represented by a practitioner authorized under 37 C.F.R. §11.14 to practice in trademark cases (“qualified practitioner”). Such a response must be signed personally by each of the joint applicants. 37 C.F.R. §§2.62(b), 2.193(e)(2); TMEP §611.06(a). See TMEP §§611.03(a) and 804.04 regarding persons authorized to sign a verification on behalf of an applicant.

Joint applicants are not the same as a joint venture. A joint venture is a single applicant, in the same way that a partnership is a single applicant. See TMEP §803.03(b) regarding joint ventures.