In August, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) introduced a controversial new requirement, whereby trademark applications made by foreign applicants resident in the United States would only be able to apply to register once they first proved their status as legal immigrants by producing their Permanent Resident Card (PRC), otherwise known as the ‘green card’.
According to the USPTO, the new requirement was intended to stem the influx of ‘bogus’ and ‘counterfeit’ trademark applications from China, with Chinese trademark applications to the USPTO having increased to over 15% of all applications as of June 2019.
However, this requirement quickly proved divisive, especially amongst the USPTO’s own trademark examiners, who complained that, in effect, they were being drawn into the arena of immigration enforcement. There was also concern that the new rules effectively blocked the registration of trademarks by anybody not either a US citizen or in possession of a green card, despite the fact that, under US law, there is no requirement that somebody applying for a trademark in the US must live in the US, or even be a United States citizen.
As a result of this backlash, the USPTO has now dropped the green card requirement.
According to Paul Fucito, the USPTO Press Secretary, the requirement was being ‘revised’ “because we’ve had multiple requests for additional clarification”.
Under the new, revised guidelines, applicants need, once again, only to provide proof of address.