Congrats to New USPTO Law School Pilot Program Participants

Congratulations to the new USPTO Law School Pilot Program participants! The newly selected schools are:

  • Arizona State University School of Law (Patents and Trademarks)
  • California Western School of Law (Trademarks)
  • Case Western Reserve University School of Law (Patents)
  • Fordham School of Law (Patents and Trademarks)
  • Michigan State University School of Law (Trademarks)
  • North Carolina Central University School of Law (Patents)
  • University of Notre Dame (Patents and Trademarks)
  • University of San Francisco School of Law (Trademarks)
  • South Texas College of Law (Trademarks)
  • Thomas Jefferson School of Law (Patents and Trademarks)
  • Wayne State University School of Law (Patents), and
  • University of Washington School of Law (Patents and Trademarks).

These schools join the law schools that are current members of the program. These existing schools are:

  • American University, Washington College of Law (Trademarks)
  • Howard University School of Law (Trademarks)
  • North Carolina Central University School of Law (Trademarks)
  • Rutgers Law School – Newark (Trademarks)
  • The George Washington University School of Law (Trademarks)
  • The John Marshall School of Law (Patents)
  • University of Akron School of Law (Trademarks)
  • University of Connecticut School of Law (Patents and Trademarks)
  • University of Maine School of Law (Patents and Trademarks)
  • University of Maryland School of Law (Patents and Trademarks)
  • University of New Hampshire School of Law (Trademarks)
  • University of Puerto Rico School of Law (Patents and Trademarks)
  • University of Richmond – Richmond School of Law (Trademarks)
  • Vanderbilt Law School (Trademarks)
  • West Virginia University School of Law (Trademarks), and
  • William Mitchell College of Law (Patents and Trademarks).

The law school pilot program promotes affordable intellectual property (IP) legal services to individuals and small businesses. Law schools participating in the program provide IP legal services to clients on a pro bono basis.

The USPTO accepts law schools into the program that demonstrate strong clinic programs. Overall the schools must possess solid IP curricula supporting a participating student’s hands-on learning in the program; a commitment to networking in the community; comprehensive pro bono services; and excellent case management systems. Students in the IP programs can expect to draft and file patent and trademark applications and respond to Office Actions. Each law school clinic program must meet and maintain the requirements for USPTO certification in order for student practitioners to practice before the USPTO.

Google – in French

Trademarks are always adjectives. That is the first thing I learned in trademarks class in law school. Take that as a given. Trademarks are always adjectives. By corollary then, trademarks are never verbs.

Enter GOOGLE®. GOOGLE is a search engine that prowls the internet and Finds Things with reasonable efficiency, and it is very popular. So popular, in fact, that the name of the website and company — Google — is now defined as “to search for on the internet.”

Whoa. That’s a verb. Notice the infinitive there? “To search…” That must mean that the word being defined is a verb. “To google.” I hear “google” being used as a verb in common parlance all the time: “I googled myself” instead of “I ran a GOOGLE® search on myself.” It’s shorter. It’s easier to say. It’s wrong.

By making the mark synonymous with that which the mark is meant to identify, the English speakers of the world have admitted the verb “to google” into the English language. English does that. It gloms onto new, interesting and fun words and simply swallows them whole. It did that with aspirin, cellophane and escalator. It’s doing that with XEROX® and KLEENEX®. And, it seems, English is glomming onto GOOGLE®.

French, on the other hand, does not glom. The French language is governed and controlled by a group of word scholars in Paris called >L’Academie Française. These etymologists examine every new word that comes their way to see if the word is eligible for admission into the French language (don’t ask me about the standards they use; run a GOOGLE® search on “l’academie française” and find out for yourself). Therefore, when a new word makes it into the French language, it’s a pretty big deal.

Regardez ici — that means “Look here” for you non-French-speakers — and see what has happened in French. I even heard a rumor from a French-scholar client of mine that it’s officially listed by L’Academie.

Wow. The French have admitted “googler” (pron. “goo-GLAY”) into their language. Is this admission based on usage the death knell for the GOOGLE® mark? After all, if a mark comes to mean what the product or service is, the mark can be challenged as being generic. Even fanciful marks can turn generic with usage: the list of these is long. Escalator. Cellophane. Aspirin.

Stay tuned.

Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks to Enter into Force in 2009

Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks to Enter into Force in 2009.

This is good news for trademark owners worldwide. The Singapore Treaty, administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), will open the way for the branded goods industry to register and manage trademark rights cost-effectively and efficiently. The treaty “… standardizes procedural aspects of trademark registration and licensing and enables owners of trademarks and national trademark authorities to take advantage of efficiencies in using modern communications technologies to process and manage evolving trademark rights.” The USA ratified the Singapore Treaty on 1 October 2008.

Australia ratified the treaty on 16 December 2008. Australia was the tenth country to do so; therefore, according to its terms, the Singapore Treaty will go into full effect on 16 March 2009, three months after the tenth ratification. The ratifying nations are:

the Kyrgyz Republic

Over time, other WIPO countries will, we hope, join with these first ten under the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks to help to standardize trademark law throughout the world and make registration across international boundaries more and more seamless. More information about the Singapore Treaty can be found on the Singapore Treaty’s webpage on the WIPO site.