Commissioner for Trademarks responds to the Fifty-Four Trademark Practitioners

It will be recalled (blog article, August 7, 2021) that fifty-four trademark practitioners wrote to the Commissioner for Trademarks, asking that the Trademark Office computer systems be improved in several ways.  I expect that at some point we will hear back in writing from Commissioner Gooder, but I thought I would pass along that I have heard back verbally from the Commissioner about this. 

Briefly, the letter (which you can see here) asks that the Trademark Office enhance its computer systems so that there is room for more characters in the attorney docket number field, and so that there is room enough for the entirety of the holder address information that the International Bureau provides in Madrid Protocol designations, and room for more characters in the various mailing-address fields in the Trademark Office computer systems.

What led to this informal verbal feedback was a bit of luck that I happened to serve recently on the faculty of a CLE program in Ohio, and that Commissioner Gooder was also serving on the faculty of the program.  This led to an informal exchange and then an opportunity for a later telephone call.  One of the things that came up during the phone call was that yes, we will get our “asks” as set forth in the letter from the fifty-four trademark practitioners.

Unfortunately, we will not get our “asks” right away.  What Commissioner Gooder explained to me is that the underlying system that puts such small character-count limits on the various fields is very old, runs on Cobol, and is going to get retired within the next twelve months in favor of a successor system that will be put into service in mid-2022.  Our “asks” arrived at just the right time to make sure that the design requirements for the successor system will include all of our “asks”.  

But of course it is uneconomic, he explained, to try to modify the legacy system given that it would cost a lot of money to make modifications to it, and that the system would be retired shortly thereafter.

I actually learned the Cobol programming language as a high school senior, about one million years ago.  It has been a long time since I did any coding in Cobol.


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