Event Highlights USPTO Innovation, IP Legislation

Published: January 27, 2021

Spring 2021 may bring the introduction of new bipartisan copyright legislation on digital media that could provide increased intellectual property (IP) protections in the United States, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) said at an event co-hosted by INTA.

Meanwhile, the National Council for Expanding American Innovation of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has committed to help to develop a national strategy aimed at broadening participation in the innovation economy demographically and geographically, according to Andrei Iancu, now-former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. Mr. Iancu’s remarks at the January 19 event are here.

Mr. Iancu’s remarks came shortly before he announced his resignation from the USPTO, as a new administration takes office in Washington, D.C. Drew Hirshfeld is acting in his stead, performing the functions and duties of the Office, according to the USPTO.

INTA, the Global Innovation Policy Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Intellectual Property Owners Association co-hosted the event.

Senator Tillis, who will serve as the Ranking Member of the Senate Intellectual Property Subcommittee in the recently convened 117th Congressional Session, kicked off his address by praising Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) as the next Chairman of the Senate Intellectual Property Subcommittee, a title Senator Tillis held in the previous session of Congress. Senator Tillis praised Senator Coons for an “ambitious agenda” that includes tackling IP theft, counterfeits, and improvements at the USPTO.

In reflecting on the 116th Congress, Senator Tillis noted the December passage of the Trademark Modernization Act (TMA), which includes a provision on the rebuttable presumption of irreparable harm, a measure INTA strongly supports. The legislation will help address fraudulent filings and the next step is implementation of the statutory changes, he said.

Senator Tillis said his priority in this Congress will be to reform the copyright law to provide stronger digital copyright protections, including an update of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Mr. Iancu highlighted the USPTO’s achievements and challenges under his leadership, including the USPTO’s fee-setting authority through 2026, a permanent extension of the agency telework programs, and upgrades to its data processes and information technology infrastructure.

Discussing the TMA, Mr. Iancu said that it “creates new opportunities to challenge bogus marks and help us declutter our register … and the law enables us to set different deadlines and, therefore, speed up the pace of examination even further.” The USPTO is currently drafting regulations to implement the statute.

Mr. Iancu shared data showing an “astounding 69 percent increase in trademark filings so far this fiscal year to date.” He further noted that the ongoing dialogue focused on patent reform.

Moving forward, “for the United States to maintain its leading edge, we need all hands on deck,” Mr. Iancu said. “Innovation should not belong to a select few.”

INTA thanks Mr. Iancu for his service and looks forward to collaborating with the new USPTO leadership.

INTA’s Washington, D.C., Representative Office advocates the Association’s policy positions in Canada and the United States. To learn more about INTA’s activities in the region, please contact INTA’s Director of Government Relations, Jennifer McDowell at [email protected].

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

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