Electronic Trademark Registration Certificates

The Trademark Office will soon start issuing electronic trademark registration certificates instead of paper ones.

The Trademark Office has for years created an electronic registration certificate and mailed a paper version, which has a decorative stamp and ribbon. After June 7, 2022, if trademark owners want a physical copy of the registration certificate, they will have to specifically order one and pay a $15-25 fee.

The Trademark Office has been trying to modernize its processes. The trademark offices of many other countries around the world have issued only electronic trademark registration certificates. The USPTO now harmonizes with those practices.

The Trademark Office also claims that “many of our customers indicated that they would prefer to receive their electronic trademark registration certificate in a digital format rather than as a paper certificate.” I find this a bit hard to believe because the digital format has been available for over a decade at an easily-accessible, public website. Perhaps customers have complained that they don’t want the paper certificate because it is redundant. I have actually found the opposite, that clients do want the paper copy and sometimes want additional copies for display.

The Trademark Office also claims this will increase the speed with which registration copies are issued. I’m not sure this is true either, as electronic trademark registration certificates are already available online the day they issue – the paper copies just come in the mail a week or two later. Rather than making the process faster, the Trademark Office just eliminated a step at the end. It should, however, have a slight environmental impact. The Trademark Office issues about 400,000 trademark registration certificates a year, which is at least some paper savings.

Applicants who file applications after June 7 will have to order paper registration certificates and pay a fee. If they want a one-page “presentation copy” on heavy paper with a gold foil seal, the government fee will be $25. If they want a certified copy – used in court or in foreign trademark office – the fee will be $15. A presentation copy is not a certified copy. Certified copies are officially stamped and issued, while presentation copies are essentially just ornamental.