03.03.10

Leahy-Authored Bill To Ease Burdens On Trademark Owners Set To Become Law

[UPDATE – On March 17, President Obama signed into law legislation authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to ease burdens on trademark owners.  Note reference to Vermont’s Rock Art Brewery in release below.]

WASHINGTON – Legislation authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to help assist trademark owners in maintaining the protection of their brands was passed by the House of Representatives today, and will now head to the President’s desk to be signed into law. 

The Trademark Law Technical and Conforming Amendments Act will make technical amendments to the nation’s trademark laws, and will harmonize the system for submitting maintenance filings to the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Maintenance filings are required for continuing the protection of a trademark.  The legislation will also authorize the Director of the USPTO to permit applicants to correct good faith and harmless errors and will make several technical amendments within our trademark laws.   

“The passage of this commonsense legislation demonstrates what we can do when we work together in a bipartisan way,” said Leahy.  “I thank Senator Sessions for joining me in introducing this legislation, and I thank Congressman Conyers and Congressman Smith for their work in moving this through the House.  Inefficiencies cost businesses money, and often lead to higher prices for consumers and affect jobs.  By harmonizing the system for submitting maintenance filings with the USPTO, we can help eliminate some of these costs.”

The bill also includes a requirement for the Department of Commerce to study whether large corporations are misusing the trademark laws to harass small businesses by exaggerating the scope of their trademark protection.  Last year, Vermont’s Rock Art Brewery, a small micro-brewery in Morrisville, Vermont, was the subject of such a threat.

Leahy has been a longtime advocate for protecting intellectual property, including patents and trademarks.  He introduced the bipartisan legislation in January, and it was quickly passed by the Senate.  The bill will now be sent to the President to be signed into law.

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