Why it costs money to record a trademark assignment at USPTO?

Used to be you had to pay a $40 fee to record an assignment at the USPTO.  Adding a second property to the recordation cost $40 if you were recording a patent assignment but cost $25 if you were recording a trademark assignment.

I never understood why that second or third property cost one price for trademarks and a different price for patents.

Almost two years ago the USPTO cut the fee for recording a patent assignment to zero.  This was welcome news.  When that price cut happened, I recall wondering why this fee did not drop to zero for trademark assignments.

Today I got my chance.  I am the vice-chair of AIPLA’s Patent Cooperation Treaty Issues committee, so I was present at a meeting of committee chairs, vice-chairs, and board members.  Mary Boney Denison, the Commissioner for Trademarks, was a special guest.  When she finished her prepared remarks, she asked if anybody had any questions.  So I raised my hand and asked why it is that we have to pay money to record a trademark assignment when we don’t need to pay money to record a patent assignment. Continue reading

The software in your car

Readers may recall that some months ago I blogged that I had replaced the (incandescent) brake lights in my Subaru car with LEDs.  Readers will also recall that Volkswagen is in the news for having included software in the engine computer of some diesel cars that would detect when an emissions test was going on, and at such times would adjust the engine to greatly reduce the emissions.  All of this reminds me of the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) which generally forbids reverse engineering of software in consumer electronic products.  So how do my LED brake lights fit into this story? Continue reading