The USPTO has quietly released a new way to monitor the trademark Official Gazette. (Note that this is not at all the same thing as the trademark application monitoring system that I discussed in the previous blog article! This blog article is talking about a system for monitoring the Official Gazette, and the previous blog article is talking about a system for monitoring TSDR.)
When I was first in practice back in about 1987, I was an associate at a boutique IP firm in Manhattan. The firm had a subscription to the Official Gazette. The firm had an employee whose job it was, every week, to go through the OG from the top to the bottom, looking for various things that might require action, for example that might require filing opposition. Of course in those days there was no Internet. You could search a database electronically (we did it via Dialog) but that was expensive. You could pay a service provider (such as Thomson & Thomson) to search the database periodically (an “application watch”) to find trademark applications of interest. And having found a trademark application of interest, you could pay the service provider to “do a publication watch” the application and to let you know when it had been published for opposition.
These days of course it is much easier and cheaper. You can search the TESS database free of charge on the Internet. You can search the OG free of charge in an Internet search. One way to do a publication watch for free is with Feathers! But for an application watch, you still need to either pay someone to do the search periodically, or you need to remember to do the search yourself on a periodic basis.
Which is where this new USPTO service, the Trademark Official Gazette Watch (“TMOGW”), might be helpful to some practitioners.
TMOGW is hard to find on the USPTO web site. To get there you must somehow find your way to the “my USPTO” page. I have not figured out how you can click, starting at the main USPTO web page, to reach the “my USPTO” page. As best I can tell, the only way to reach the “my USPTO” page is if you already know its web address which is https://my.uspto.gov. Once you are on that page, you need to log in using your “my USPTO” user ID and password.
Presumably you already have a “my USPTO” user ID and password because presumably you already use Financial Manager. But if for some inexplicable reason you do not already use Financial Manager, and if you otherwise do not already have a “my USPTO” user ID and password, then you can create an account.
Having logged in at “my USPTO”, you then need to look at the various “widgets” that are available there. Most of the widgets on this page are, so far as I can see, a waste of time and screen space. Scroll around until you find TMOGW.
Having found the TMOGW widget, you can create “watches”. Each watch looks for whatever you want to watch for. Well, not really. When I tried to create some watches, I found that as a general matter I was not able to create any of the watches that I really wanted to create. I guess this is because there are many fields that I might wish to search and that simply do not exist in the Official Gazette.
But anyway yes you can search on quite a few fields. And you can drill down very narrowly in some fields, for example searching only for cases cancelled under Section 37 (as distinguished from cases cancelled under Section 8 or Section 71 or Section 7D or Section 70 or Section 18 or Section 24).
I can’t figure out whether you can do fuzzy searches, like the ones that you can do in TESS. For example can you search for marks that start with “Q” and end with “Z” and have any number of characters in between? I don’t know. Can you search the “attorney docket number” field with a truncation symbol, looking for cases in which the attorney docket number starts with certain characters? There’s no online documentation for this TMOGW system.
How do you learn the results of the watch? Do you receive an email telling you that the watch found something in the OG? As far as I can see, the answer is “no”. The only way that you would learn of some “hit” in the watch system is if you remember to log in once a week to see whether there have been any “hits”. In the screen shot above, my second “watch” seems to have had one “hit” in the January 3, 2017 issue of the OG. I guess you would have to remember to log in weekly, and then look for a “watch” that has a number next to it that is not “zero”, and then click on the watch to see the “hit”.
USPTO terms this an “alpha test” system.
Any well designed system on the Web is “RESTful“. A “RESTful” web page can be reached directly by means of a predictable web address, and is not dependent upon “stateful” relationships with things that happened previously. A handful of USPTO systems are RESTful, for example TSDR and TTABvue and AOTW. But most USPTO systems are intentionally not RESTful. Perhaps the biggest offender is PAIR. The TMOGW system is not RESTful.
I wonder if TMOGW is vulnerable to FOIA requests. A person could file a FOIA request with the USPTO, asking for the TMOGW database for your user ID. If USPTO were to grant the request, the person would learn which marks you are monitoring. You might not want the world to know that you are monitoring a particular mark.
Have you used TMOGW? If so, please post comments below to share your experiences.