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The TTAB wants to hear from everyone as to how it can improve its electronic document system. (Photo: Sunset Blvd. fills with runners at Mile 13 of the 2014 Los Angeles Marathon. (Photocredit: S. Brown. All rights reserved))

What: USPTO/TTAB Forum to gather input on a new electronic document system.

When: January 29, 2015 at 1-3 pm Eastern Standard Time (U.S.)

Where: Via webinar or in-person at USPTO/TTAB headquarters.

Not all of our readers are familiar with the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (or, “TTAB” for short). But if you own a business or a trademark and want to register your trademark by filing a trademark application,  you should be.  While the TTAB is an administrative tribunal, it operates much like a court and its judges decide whether contested (or rejected) trademark applications are entitled to registration. The TTAB also decides whether an already registered mark is entitled to continued registration. Remember that whole debacle about the Washington Redskins trademark? Well, it was the TTAB that decided that the Washington Redskins mark wasn’t entitled to continued registration after some activists filed a challenge to the registration. You can find a video with a general overview of the TTAB and how it works, here (you’ll have to scroll down to video No. 13 on the list).

The TTAB recently announced that it will host an “external stakeholder” forum on January 29, 2015, from 1 to 3 pm.  The Forum will discuss the TTAB’s e-filing system, known as “ESTTA” (Electronic System for Trademark Trials and Appeals), as well as electronic filing for trademark applications.

According to the USPTO, it is in the process of redesigning its IT systems to allow for “end-to-end” electronic processing of trademark matters. The new system, known as “Trademark Next Generation” (TMNG), will deploy later for TTAB trial matters than for trademark examination and appeal matters.

In the meantime, though, the TTAB is considering interim updates to ESTTA. The TTAB is hosting the forum so that stakeholders may voice their concerns regarding the current system and also their wishlist for the new system and the interim updates.

Some areas that the TTAB Forum will discuss are:

• Difficulties encountered with attachments to filings, both in terms of pre-filing review and resolution of images in TTABVUE following submission.
• Expansion of list of grounds on the ESTTA cover page for purposes of initiating opposition and cancellation proceedings.
• Modification of the consent motion form to allow filers to control resetting of dates that have not yet lapsed.
• Implementation of a “saved” feature (similar to the one already available on the trademark application electronic filing system) that will allow more than one author to contribute to the filing before submission.

The Forum is open to anyone interested- you can attend in-person (if you’re located in the Washington D.C. area), or via webinar.  You’ll need to register first, though. To register, sending an e-mail with your contact information to TTABRSVP@USPTO.gov. In the e-mail, state whether you intend to attend in person or via the web. The USPTO will send you additional information about the Forum’s agenda and how to join the discussion via the web.  For further information, you can read the USPTO notice, here.