TMEP 803.03(e)(i): Business Trusts

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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803.03(e)(i)    Business Trusts

Most states recognize an entity commonly identified as a "business trust," "Massachusetts trust," or "common-law trust." A business trust has attributes of both a corporation and a partnership.  Many states have codified laws recognizing and regulating business trusts; other states apply common law.  The USPTO will accept the entity designation "business trust," or any appropriate variation provided for under relevant state law.

The business trust is created under the instructions of the instrument of trust.  Generally, the "trustee" has authority equivalent to an officer in a corporation.  Laws vary to some extent as to the authority conferred on various individuals associated with the business trust.

The application must first refer to the trustee(s) as the applicant and indicate the name of the trust, if any.  The state under whose laws the trust exists, and the names and citizenship (or state or foreign country of incorporation or organization) of the individual trustees, must also be set forth.  Accordingly, the examining attorney must require that the business trust's application be captioned as follows:

The Trustees of the DDT Trust, a California business trust, the trustees comprising Sue Smith, a United States citizen, and the PDQ Corporation, a Delaware corporation.

For the purpose of service of process, the business trust is essentially like a corporation.  Therefore, it is not necessary to identify the beneficiaries or equitable owners of the business trust in identifying the entity.