A collective membership mark differs greatly from a traditional trademark (or service mark). Collective membership marks are much rarer than trademarks and most individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations will never have to worry too much about them. Having said that, they still serve a very important purpose in our society and receive the same protections from infringement and misappropriation as traditional trademarks. Before continuing, I encourage you to review my What is a Trademark? article, which I think will help you better understand the information presented in this article.
You’ll receive a trademark specimen refusal if the specimens you submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are inappropriate or insufficient to demonstrate use of your trademark in connection with the products and/or services listed in your trademark application. If the specimens don’t meet the USPTO’s strict requirements, the examining attorney will issue a trademark office action explaining why the specimens cannot be accepted.
A USPTO Suspension Inquiry is a written communication from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) inquiring about the status of the event that caused the suspension of your trademark application. For example:
- The examining attorney may have previously suspended action on your application pending the outcome of a trademark opposition you filed against a conflicting trademark in a prior-filed application. In that case, you may periodically receive a Suspension Inquiry asking whether the opposition is still ongoing or whether it has been terminated.
- The examining attorney may have previously suspended action on your application pending the resolution of a trademark cancellation you filed against a conflicting trademark registration. In that case, you may periodically receive a Suspension Inquiry asking whether the cancellation is still ongoing or whether it has been terminated.
- If you filed your trademark application under Section 44(d) (U.S. application based on ownership of a foreign trademark application), and the examining attorney previously suspended action on your application, you’ll periodically receive a Suspension Inquiry asking whether the foreign trademark application has either become a registration or gone abandoned.
Simply put, a Letter of Suspension means that a trademark application has been put on hold for a particular reason. It’s not unusual to receive a Letter of Suspension from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) a few months after filing a trademark application or a response to a trademark office action. Of course, many people who file their own trademark applications, or choose to use a do-it-yourself trademark service such as Trademark Engine, LegalZoom, or Trademarkia, are surprised to receive a Letter of Suspension and understandably have no idea what it means or whether it requires any kind of response. This article explains why trademark applications are sometimes suspended and what you should do if your application is suspended.
Understanding who should be listed as the applicant of a trademark application in the USPTO is absolutely critical. Naming the wrong applicant is one of the most common errors made by people who choose to file their own trademark applications. The worst part is that you generally don’t even know you made the error until you try to enforce your trademark registration against an alleged infringer and, in response, the infringer files a trademark cancellation against your registration on the basis that it’s void. That’s one nasty surprise you don’t want. The good news is that this mistake is easily avoidable if you spend some time carefully considering which individual or entity should be named as the applicant.