Government Officials Training Promotes Communication Between Examiners and Attorneys

Published: July 15, 2019

Each year, INTA’s Government Officials Training (GOT) Committee collaborates with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on an industry training presentation for the USPTO’s examining attorneys and staff. The industry trainings provide a forum by which an industry sector and the USPTO come together to share information on the latest trends within the industry that may affect the examination of trademark applications.

The trainings allow examiners to hear about common trademark challenges facing both in-house and external counsel, as well as establish a direct line of communication between the examiners and attorneys practicing before the USPTO.

The GOT Committee’s Cheese Industry Training presentation took place at the USPTO on May 29, with more than 385 in-person and online attendees. The GOT Committee’s USPTO Subcommittee Co-Chair, H. David Starr (Muncy, Geissler, Olds & Lowe, P.C., USA), organized the training along with Subcommittee members.

Speakers included Chad Wiegand (Schreiber Foods, USA), Sabrina Hudson (The Kraft Heinz Company, USA), and Shawna Morris (Consortium for Common Food Names, USA). The panel was moderated by GOT Committee Member, Danielle M. DeFilippis (Norris McLaughlin, USA).

Mr. Wiegand focused his presentation on the challenges and opportunities presented by disruptive food categories as well as the role of the private labeler in navigating trademark and intellectual property issues with its customers.

Ms. Hudson provided insights on key enforcement and clearance considerations, such as expansion of product lines into adjacent food categories, licensing of iconic brands into non-food categories, and third-party use of infringing marks by adult products.

Ms. Morris discussed the cheese industry’s efforts to preserve generic food names against European efforts to assert geographic indication protections.

During a very engaging Q&A session, attendees asked thought-provoking questions, including how the food industry will address labeling of disruptive foods such as plant-based proteins. The panel shared their thoughts and predictions on these current food trends.

The speakers also met with several members of Capitol Hill staff, who were present at the USPTO for their own training sessions. After the presentation, the attendees were treated to a reception featuring a variety of cheese products.

The GOT Committee also presents trainings annually at the European Union Intellectual Property Office and the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2019 International Trademark Association