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Protecting the Brand Community from Fraud with Identity Verification
Blog by Kathi Vidal, Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director, and David Gooder, USPTO Commissioner of Trademarks
Brand terminal. Regal brand. Mark Falcon.
Most members of the trademark community are familiar with these names and the havoc they have wreaked on legitimate registrants, scamming some out of tens of thousands of dollars or hijacking identities to file fraudulent submissions at the expense of competitors. Their unscrupulous business operations are a key reason why, effective August 6, 2022, the USPTO is taking the important and necessary step of requiring all trademark filers to verify their identity as a condition of filing trademark forms. electronic marks. This initiative, which includes paper-based and automated identification verification options, is critical to our overall strategy to protect our brand clients and the integrity of our brand registry.
Initially a voluntary option, our Identity Verification Program began in January 2022 to better serve our legitimate customers and help prevent bad actors from violating our USPTO Rules of Practice and Website Terms of Service. Since 2016, we have seen a significant increase in fraudulent trademark filings, as well as the number of foreign scammers from China, Pakistan, and elsewhere outside of the United States. These scammers fraudulently submit inappropriate submissions that include false signatures, false addresses, false declarations of use required to obtain and maintain registration, and false or misappropriated US attorney credentials. In fact, in the past seven months alone, the USPTO has sanctioned bad actors responsible for nearly 20,000 invalidly filed applications.
During the volunteer period, we received thoughtful feedback and suggestions from stakeholders on ways to improve our automated verification process. We listened and updated our original program to include more options and features for trademark applicants, both online and in print. These options include an online program where, after verifying a customer’s identity by matching an uploaded selfie and a copy of their government-issued ID (1:1 match), the selfie is automatically deleted from the system after 24 hours. Additionally, if a customer does not wish to use the 1:1 automated face-matching option, they can verify their identity through a brief video interview with an online representative. The video will be deleted within thirty days of the interview. We also continue to offer the paper-based process for verification. Filers who already have USPTO.gov accounts with identity verification for their patent filings can also use their existing accounts for trademark filings.
We believe in customer choice and fair and safe tools. We are pleased that over 58,000 trademark registrants have already chosen to verify their identity through this program. We will continue to listen and learn from anyone who believes in maintaining an efficient and secure trademark registry and who wants to work with us to protect our trademark community. Additionally, we will soon be posting a Federal Register notice that will provide additional clarification and context on the user roles required to verify the identity of filers and help maintain a transparent verification process. We invite stakeholders to visit our Identity Verification Program page to learn more about our program.
It’s our privilege to serve our nation’s brand community, and it’s a privilege we don’t take lightly. As we continue to develop our registry protection program to anticipate the problem, we will also continue to do everything in our power to thwart those who seek to scam our customers. This includes issuing penalty orders and listing known bad actors on our website. We also support our trademark clients and those seeking to protect their trademarks by providing more information about our processes and resources through programs such as our Trademark Basics Boot Camp series and in our new Registration Toolkit. brands. And, of course, working every day for American contractors.
Posted at 10:05 a.m. on June 30, 2022 in trademarks |