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.

What prompts this blog post is a recent announcement by the USPTO:

TEAS/TEASi Maintenance

The USPTO will perform maintenance on Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) and Trademark Electronic Application Submission International (TEASi) beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m., Saturday, August 23 EST.

TEAS and TEASi will be unavailable during the maintenance period.

Because portable and e-signature forms may take up to 14 days to process, it is important that you be aware of this scheduled outage so that you can plan ahead to avoid additional work. Our recommendation is that you file all recently created portable and e-signature forms by August 22, 2014. Customers unable to do so will be required to start the process again with updated forms.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

What does this USPTO announcement mean, in practical terms, for trademark practitioners?  The point here is that some time on Saturday, August 23, any saved submissions in TEAS that have not by that date been e-signed will be discarded.  All of your work will be lost.  You will have to start over.

The important thing to draw from this is that you might prepare a TEAS submission package and you might send it to a client to be e-signed.  When you do this, at normal times this starts a 14-day period during which the client is supposed to e-sign the document.  (At normal times, the document evaporates in the TEAS system at the end of the 14 days.)   Because of this 14-day evaporation period, most of us are in the habit of doing two things:

  • When we send the TEAS link to the client, we include a warning the client that they must keep track of the 14 days and somehow make time in their busy schedule to do the review and possible e-signing before the 14 days has passed.
  • We docket a week to check to see if the client has gotten around to e-signing the document, and if they have not, we remind the client that they have only seven days left for this review and possible e-signing.

The main point of this notice from the USPTO is that during the next two weeks, you should not say “14 days”.  You should tell the client that the review and possible e-signing needs to be done by no later than August 22 (which will be less than 14 days in the future).  And the docketed reminder should be a few days before August 22 rather than a few days after the submission package was sent to the client for review. (And not only must the client sign by August 22, but you need to get the submission e-filed by August 22.)

For example suppose you prepare a TEAS submission for client signature on Wednesday, August 20.  What you will need to say to the client on that day is something like “you have only two days within which to review and possibly e-sign this submission.”  And the reminder will have to be the following day, Thursday August 21.

How will the USPTO’s planned discarding-of-all-TEAS-saved-submissions activity that is planned for August 23 affect the practitioners who do not pay attention to this event?  Here is the sort of thing that will happen to those practitioners:

  • The practitioner prepares a TEAS submission (perhaps a complicated use-based trademark application) on Wednesday August 20 and sends the TEAS link to the client for review and possible e-signing.
  • The client receives the TEAS link, and recalls that this pesky task can always be postponed until up to 14 days later.  The client makes a note to look at the TEAS submission the following Monday (August 25).
  • On Monday, August 25, the client gets around to clicking on the TEAS link.  It doesn’t work.  (USPTO discarded the TEAS submission package two days earlier on Saturday, August 23.)
  • The client reports back to the practitioner that the link is broken.
  • The practitioner gets to start all over again, preparing the complicated TEAS submission a second time.

It is very nice that the Trademark Office goes to the trouble to plan this discarding-of-all-TEAS-saved-submissions activity more than two weeks in advance.  And it is very nice that the Trademark Office goes to the trouble to warn practitioners of this scheduled activity.

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