Today, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced a program to expedite service for trademark applications related to certain COVID-19 products and services.
How Does It Work?
As my regular readers will know, most trademark applications fall into the same queue and only in very specific circumstances can a trademark’s examination by the USPTO be expedited. However, today’s press release by the USPTO states that “in view of the critical need to develop medical products and services to combat the COVID-19 virus and move successful products to market as soon as possible,” they will accept petitions to move those applications forward more quickly.
If the petition is granted, the application will be assigned to a USPTO Examining Attorney immediately, shaving about two months off the typical applicant’s wait time.
The USPTO will also waive the filing fee for these petitions. Typically the fee for a petition is $100.00 per class of goods and services included in the application.
Please note that this program applies to trademark applications, not to patent applications. So if you’ve invented a COVID-19 product or service, this won’t protect the invention itself (that’s where patent law comes in); it would in most cases apply to a brand name, logo, or tagline related to the product.
What Types of Goods or Services Qualify?
Not all goods or services are eligible for expedited service. The USPTO considers the following to be qualifying COVID-19 medical-related goods and services:
- Pharmaceutical products or medical devices such as diagnostic tests, ventilators, and personal protective equipment, including surgical masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves that prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure COVID-19 and are subject to approval by the FDA
- Medical services or medical research services for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment of, or cure for COVID-19
So the trademark application must include those goods or services in order to qualify; however, other goods or services can also be included in the application.
“Can I Trademark COVID-19 or Coronavirus?”
No, this does not mean that you can claim or obtain trademark rights in common, generic terms like COVID-19 or CORONAVIRUS in connection with medical or health-related goods or services. The trademark (such as a brand name) in the application must still meet all of the other requirements that apply to USPTO trademark applications, and generic terms are excluded from trademark protection.
When Does This Take Effect?
The USPTO will begin accepting these petitions as of Tuesday, June 16, 2020.
If you have further questions about this program, please feel free to contact me.