To avoid cancellation, a US trademark registration needs to be renewed every ten years. Within the USPTO it is the Post-Registration Branch that has responsibility for reviewing and accepting renewals. The backlog at the Post-Reg Branch is worse than ever, and the USPTO’s dashboard does not accurately report the magnitude of the backlog.
What got me thinking about this was that on March 25 (yesterday) I received a Notice of Acceptance in one of my ten-year renewals. When the Notice arrived, it crossed my mind to look back and see how long ago we had filed the renewal. The answer turned out to be, September 14, 2022. This is a delay of 192 days. That’s worse than half a year.
And indeed most of the ten-year renewals that we have handled in recent months are renewals that languished for more than half a year in the Post-Reg Branch.
You might wonder if maybe there is some good excuse for a delay of more than half a year in a particular renewal. Was the registration being renewed a difficult case? Were there dozens of items of goods or services? Were there a large number of specimens of use? Was there some complication in the case because of, say, a name change for the registrant, or an address change?
Nope. This was as simple a ten-year renewal as one could imagine. There were no goods. There was only one item of services. Only one specimen of use, and it matched the mark in every particular. There were no address changes or applicant-name changes. Nothing in the renewal provided any excuse for such a delay. Yet it took more than half a year for the Post-Reg Branch to carry out this renewal.
You can see the USPTO’s trademark dashboard here. I did a screen shot of that dashboard and you can see it above. One discouraging bit about the dashboard is how out of date it is. As best I can make out from the blue dots, the most recent blue dot got posted to the graph about six months ago.
A second discouraging bit about the dashboard is that I guess maybe the data point for the end of 2022 was off the chart. Normally when we say something went “off the chart” we are communicating good news. But not this time. Some USPTO person created this chart in the first place, and the person sort of assumed, I guess, that surely it would never happen that the Post-Reg Branch would fall more than one hundred days behind. So there was no need to scale the chart for numbers of days worse than 100!
The third discouraging bit is to see where the blue line would need to go to reach the present-day backlog. I have marked in green the line that reaches the present-day backlog of 192 days. To do this, I had to add hundreds of pixels of extra “canvas” to the top of the screen shot.