Earlier this month, the United States Patent & Trademark Office’s (USPTO) finalized and announced a rule requiring foreign trademark applicants to be represented by a United States licensed attorney when applying for a US trademark registration . The rule covers individuals with a permanent legal residence outside the US or its territories and entities with their principal place of business outside the US or its territories. There is no change to the rule for domestic trademark applicants, who are still not required to be represented by an attorney.
According to the USPTO, the rule is intended to (1) increase USPTO customer compliance with US trademark law and USPTO regulations, (2) improve the accuracy of trademark submissions to the USPTO, and (3) safeguard the identity of the US trademark register. In explaining the rule, the USPTO articulated, “We discovered an increasing number of foreign trademark applicants, registrants, and parties are filing inaccurate and possibly fraudulent submissions with the USPTO that do not comply with U.S. trademark law or the USPTO’s rules. Often, these submissions are made with the assistance of foreign individuals or entities not authorized to represent applicants at the USPTO.” It appears the USPTO’s action came as a result of the increasing number of questionable, inaccurate, or potentially fraudulent Chinese applications specifically.
The rule becomes effective August 3, 2019.