By Marynelle Wilson & Antigone Peyton | 61 Am. U. L. Rev. 1151 (2012)
Cloudigy Law PLLC
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s trademark docket was quiet in 2011. The Federal Circuit issued only six trademark decisions, designating two of them as precedential. The court issued a considerably higher number of trademark opinions in prior years.
The smaller number of trademark cases on the court’s docket might be driven by economic considerations and the reduced number of trademark applications filed in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, 352,051 trademark applications were filed, nearly 50,000 fewer than the 401,392 applications filed in 2008. In 2010, trademark filings increased slightly to 368,939. Given the average length of trademark prosecution and timelines for proceedings at the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (TTAB), a disputed trademark application filed in late 2009 or 2010 would generally be heard at the Federal Circuit in 2011.
In recent years, several trademark appeals have reached the Federal Circuit via district courts, the International Trade Commission, and even the United States Court of Federal Claims. All of the 2011 appeals, however, originated in the TTAB, an administrative tribunal within the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). Five cases involved opposition proceedings, and one involved a cancellation proceeding. Four of the Federal Circuit’s trademark opinions primarily addressed substantive trademark law, one covered a procedural issue, and one considered both substantive and procedural issues. The Federal Circuit affirmed the TTAB’s decisions in all six cases.