Changes to the Trademark Rules of Practice To Mandate Electronic Filing

 
CONTENT
Federal Register, Volume 84 Issue 243 (Wednesday, December 18, 2019)
[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 243 (Wednesday, December 18, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 69330-69331]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-27426]
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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
Patent and Trademark Office
37 CFR Parts 2 and 7
[Docket No. PTO-T-2017-0004]
RIN 0651-AD15
Changes to the Trademark Rules of Practice To Mandate Electronic
Filing
AGENCY: Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce.
ACTION: Final rule; delay of effective date.
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SUMMARY: On July 31, 2019, the United States Patent and Trademark
Office published in the Federal Register a final rule amending the
regulations to mandate electronic filing of trademark applications and
all submissions associated with trademark applications and
registrations, and to require the designation of an email address for
receiving USPTO correspondence, with limited exceptions. That final
rule had an effective date of October 5, 2019, which was subsequently
delayed until December 21, 2019. A correction to the July 31, 2019 rule
was published on December 13, 2019 and is also effective on December
21, 2019. This action further delays the effective date of the both the
July 31, 2019 final rule, and the December 13, 2019 correction, until
February 15, 2020.
DATES: The effective date of the final rule published on July 31, 2019
(84 FR 37081), delayed on October 2, 2019 (84 FR 52363), is further
delayed from December 21, 2019 to February 15, 2020. The correction
published on December 13, 2019 (84 FR 68045), is delayed from December
21, 2019 to February 15, 2020.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Catherine Cain, Office of the Deputy
Commissioner for Trademark Examination Policy, [email protected],
(571) 272-8946.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On July 31, 2019, the United States Patent
and Trademark Office (USPTO) published in the Federal Register (84 FR
37081, July 31, 2019) a final rule amending the regulations to mandate
electronic filing of trademark applications and all submissions
associated with trademark applications and registrations, and to
require the designation of an email address for receiving USPTO
correspondence, with limited exceptions. The effective date of the July
31, 2019 rule was delayed from October 5, 2019 until December 21, 2019
(84 FR 52363, October 2, 2019). A correction to the July 31, 2019 rule
was published on December 13, 2019 (84 FR 68045) and is also effective
on December 21, 2019.
    In response to recent feedback received from external stakeholders
regarding their need to more fully comprehend the nature of, and
prepare to comply with, the new requirements before they become
effective, the effective date of both the July 31, 2019 final rule and
the December 13, 2019 correction is being delayed until February 15,
2020. This final rule will also allow the USPTO additional time to
ensure that internal implementation of the requirements associated with
the mandate that applicants and registrants electronically file their
trademark applications and all submissions associated with trademark
applications and registrations, and that they designate an email
address for receiving USPTO correspondence, is in place.
[[Page 69331]]
Rulemaking Requirements
    Administrative Procedure Act: This final rule revises the effective
date of the July 31, 2019 final rule implementing procedures requiring
the electronic filing of trademark applications and all submissions
associated with trademark applications and registrations, and the
subsequent correction rule published on December 13, 2019, and it is a
rule of agency practice and procedure, and/or interpretive rules
pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A). See JEM Broad. Co. v. F.C.C., 22 F.3d
32. (D.C. Cir. 1994) (``[T]he `critical feature' of the procedural
exception [in 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A)] `is that it covers agency actions
that do not themselves alter the rights or interests of parties,
although [they] may alter the manner in which the parties present
themselves or their viewpoints to the agency.''' (quoting Batterton v.
Marshall, 648 F.2d 694, 707 (D.C. Cir. 1980))); see also Bachow
Commc'ns Inc. v. F.C.C., 237 F.3d 683, 690 (D.C. Cir. 2001) (rules
governing an application process are procedural under the
Administrative Procedure Act); Inova Alexandria Hosp. v. Shalala, 244
F.3d 342, 350 (4th Cir. 2001) (rules for handling appeals were
procedural where they did not change the substantive standard for
reviewing claims). Accordingly, prior notice and opportunity for public
comment are not required pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b) or (c) (or any
other law). See Cooper Techs. Co. v. Dudas, 536 F.3d 1330, 1336-37
(Fed. Cir. 2008) (stating that 5 U.S.C. 553, and thus 35 U.S.C.
2(b)(2)(B), does not require notice and comment rulemaking for
``interpretative rules, general statements of policy, or rules of
agency organization, procedure, or practice'' (quoting 5 U.S.C.
553(b)(A)).
    Moreover, the Director of the USPTO, pursuant to authority at 5
U.S.C. 553(b)(B), finds good cause to adopt the change in this final
rule without prior notice and an opportunity for public comment, as
such procedures would be impracticable and contrary to the public
interest. Immediate implementation of the delay in effective date is in
the public interest, because it is responsive to recent feedback
received from external stakeholders regarding their need to more fully
comprehend the nature of, and prepare to comply with, the new
requirements before they are effective. It will also allow the USPTO
additional time to ensure that internal implementation of the
requirements associated with the July 31, 2019 final rule and the
December 13, 2019 correction is in place. Delay of the July 31, 2019
final rule and the December 13, 2019 correction to provide prior notice
and comment procedures is impracticable, because it would allow the
July 31, 2019 final rule and December 13, 2019 correction to go into
effect before external stakeholders are ready to comply with, and the
agency is ready to implement, the new requirements. Therefore, the
Director finds there is good cause to waive notice and comment
procedures for this rule.
    Finally, the change in this final rule may be made effective
earlier than the required 30-day delay in effectiveness because this is
not a substantive rule under 35 U.S.C. 553(d). Moreover, pursuant to 5
U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Director finds good cause to waive the 30-day
delay in effectiveness for this final rule because such a delay would
allow the July 31, 2019 final rule and December 13, 2019 correction to
go into effect before external stakeholders are ready to comply with,
and the agency is ready to implement, the new requirements.
    Dated: December 16, 2019.
Andrei Iancu,
Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of
the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
[FR Doc. 2019-27426 Filed 12-17-19; 8:45 am]
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