US Trademark Office needs to stop publishing IP addresses linked to email addresses

(Followup — USPTO did the right thing and stopped publishing IP addresses.  See this blog post.)

Those who read the previous posting, about the need for USPTO to implement SSL and PFS on all of its outward-facing e-commerce systems, will have heard of the suspicion that a company is eavesdropping on TESS sessions and then uses the results of the eavesdropping in emailed sales pitches.  The alert reader will wonder how it is that such an eavesdropper would be able to figure out what email address to use to reach someone at an otherwise seemingly random IP address.  The answer is that the US Trademark Office needs to stop publishing IP addresses linked to email addresses.

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USPTO needs to implement SSL and PFS on all servers

The USPTO needs to implement SSL and PFS on all of its public-facing servers.  In plain language all of the servers at USPTO need to use “https://” rather than “http://”.  Why?  Because apparently there are eavesdroppers.  See this report from a member of the E-Trademarks listserv:

The company TMFeatures really has figured out how to decipher what we are searching, and I am very concerned.  I am working on a very sensitive global launch for a client, and I received an email this afternoon from this company which makes it clear that it knows exactly what I have pulled up on the public USPTO TESS database.  How can that happen?   If a company is able to compile a list of the marks we have pulled up, it would not be hard to make a very good case of competitive intelligence available for the right price.   I assume this would be much worse for single industry in-house trademark counsel than us outside people, but still very concerning.

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EFS-Web broken again

USPTO has had another system crash.  EFS-Web is broken again.  It crashed at about 6AM this morning, Saturday, August 9.

Practitioners will recall the big USPTO system crash on Wednesday, May 14 (blog) in which EFS-Web was broken but also EFS-Web Contingency was broken.

In today’s system crash, EFS-Web is broken but EFS-Web Contingency is still working.  So today’s crash at the USPTO is not quite as bad as the May 14 crash.

The USPTO maintains a USPTO Systems Status and Availability page which supposedly provides “the latest information on operating status and availability of Online Business Systems.”  The USPTO failed that promise again today.  At no time during this six-hour outage did the SSAA page give any acknowledgement that EFS-Web had crashed.

What are the workarounds when EFS-Web crashes like this?

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Trademark Office being helpful

Do you sometimes prepare a submission in USPTO’s TEAS system, and send it to a client so that the client may review it and maybe e-sign it?  (Examples of such a submission might include the filing of a new US trademark application or the filing of a Statement of Use.)   If so, then during the next two weeks you may wish to carry out that task in a slightly different way than the usual way.  The nice thing is that the Trademark Office is being helpful to its customers by letting them know in advance of something important that will happen about two weeks from now.

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The Terrifying New York Definition of a Franchise

It is all too easy for an intellectual property practitioner in the US to fall into the bad habit of assuming that everything about IP is the same in every state of the US.  The other day a discussion in the E-Trademarks listserv offered a reminder of a particularly nasty trap for the unwary — the terrifying New York definition of a franchise.

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