2020 ABA Annual Meeting
Last month, the American Bar Association’s (ABA) 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting brought together lawyer members from across the country through virtual platforms. The ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law (ABA-IPL) officers, Council, operations boards, and action groups all held meetings to discuss plans for the coming year. New officers and council members were elected for the 2020-2021 bar year. The ABA-IPL Section council deliberated on a number of policy issues and proposed advocacy. A special virtual reception provided members an interesting way of meeting and mingling.
The Section had two resolutions before the ABA House of Delegates which were all approved and adopted. The resolutions now become policy of the American Bar Association.
108A – Resolved, That the American Bar Association urges Congress to enact legislation authorizing one or more principal officers, who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, to review decisions of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) determining the patentability of any claim reviewed by the PTAB before such decisions become final decisions of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and that the legislation should also restore Title 5 removal protections for Administrative Patent Judges (APJs) of the PTAB.
108B – RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association supports, in principle, a transparent administrative process or processes to remove trademark registrations from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Principal or Supplemental Register, provided that:
(a) invalidation of a targeted registration is conditioned on proof that the registered mark was not used in commerce by any of the following relevant dates: (1) the claimed date of first use; (2) the filing date of an amendment to allege use; or (3) date of registration;
(b) the USPTO independently verifies the evidence of such non-use;
(c) there is a clear definition of what qualifies as sufficient evidence to prove such non-use as of the relevant date;
(d) registrants domiciled in the United States are not disadvantaged vis-à-vis registrants domiciled outside the United States, including with regard to the timing of the process(es) and any mechanisms by which registrations are invalidated;
(e) such process(es) before the USPTO should be stayed in the event of an adversarial proceeding before a tribunal with competent jurisdiction in which there is a claim or defense that the registration should be cancelled on the ground of such non-use on or before the relevant date; and
(f) registrants receive the right to appeal adverse determinations by civil action or by appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit, as set forth in 15 U.S.C. § 1071.
Section Council adopts policy positions at ABA Annual Meeting
The Section Council, meeting during the recent 2020 ABA Virtual Annual Meeting, adopted resolutions as Section policy on USPTO funding in response to emergency situations and on the USPTO Telework Enhancement Act Pilot Program. These policy resolutions have not been approved by the ABA House of Delegates or the Board of Governors, and, accordingly, should not be considered as representing the position of the Association. They can be used by the Section in developing resolutions to bring before the ABA House of Delegates or to develop policy statements to Congress or various government agencies over the signature of the Section Chair (with disclaimers that the positions are not ABA policy), after proper blanket authority has been granted by the ABA to do so. Several comment letters were also reviewed and approved, including a letter to Congress on the SHOP SAFE Act, and a joint letter with the International Law Section to China on revisions to China Patent Law.