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Tag: foreign trademark

US Trademark Applications Based on Foreign Trademark Applications and Registrations

Trademark applications in the US can be based on use, an intent-to-use, or a foreign trademark application.

Spud Lake north of Durango, Colorado

When a trademark application has been previously filed outside the US, for certain entities there are ways to enter the US based on that foreign trademark application.  Applications can be filed under what is called 44(d) and 44(e) bases.  There are a lot of wrinkles to prosecution under both bases, and you should consult an attorney before filing an application under either.  For example, certain actions must be taken if you, as the owner of the foreign trademark, are not domiciled in the United States.  These actions can affect the cost, timeline, and registrability of the trademark application.  And particular timelines must be followed if you are or have filed a number of foreign applications before the US one.  Despite these and other nuances, the below provides a brief overview of the two different foreign-basis processes.

Section 44(d) Filing Basis

Under Section 44(d), your US trademark application can be filed and granted a priority date because you filed a foreign priority trademark application less than 6 months before.  You must claim an intent-to-use the trademark in United States commerce.  The scope of the goods and services identified in the US application is confined by the foreign trademark application; it cannot be broader than the priority application.

The Examiner will then begin to review the US application.  If there are issues with it, the Examiner will send an office action presenting those issues, and you will have 6 months to respond and overcome those issues.  If you do overcome those issues – or they are never raised in the first place – then the Examiner will suspend the application pending an update on the foreign trademark application.

If the foreign trademark application registers and you provide proof of such, then the US application can be converted from a 44(d) basis to a 44(e) basis, discussed below, and the application will be published for opposition (https://galvanilegal.com/wp/trademark-opposition/).  If, however, the foreign application is abandoned, your US application may be re-suspended, or you may have the opportunity to rely on some other filing basis without forfeiting the priority date.  For example, if you have begun to sell the product in the US, you can change the intent-to-use basis of the US application to an actual in-use basis.

It is important to remember that Section 44(d) only provides a basis for receiving a priority filing date – an effective filing date which is earlier than the day the application was actually filed in the US – because of the foreign trademark application.  It does not provide a right to publication or registration.

Section 44(e) Filing Basis

If you own a valid foreign trademark registration, you may be able to base a US trademark application on it under Section 44(e).

When you file an application under 44(e), you must claim a bona fide intent to use the mark in US commerce, the scope of the goods or services cannot exceed that of the foreign trademark application, and you have to submit a copy of the foreign trademark registration from the country of your origin.

If the Examiner finds that all filing requirements under Section 44(e) are met, the US trademark application will be approved for publication.  If not opposed, it will then proceed toward registration.  Section 44(e) thus provides a basis for registering a trademark in the US without actually using it in the US.  There are some drawbacks to this, but it is nonetheless an important exception to the conventional requirement that a mark be used in order to be registered.

Trademark Designations: TM / MC

I saw a designation I’ve not seen before on some packaging at Costco this weekend.  We walked down the coffee aisle, and the Starbucks VIA coffee packets were branded with a NEVER BE WITHOUT GREAT COFFEE tagline followed by a “TM / MC” label.  I haven’t seen this label before (as others apparently haven’t either), so I had to do a little research as to whether this was some sort of US label I’d never heard of, or if it had to do with trademark requirements in other countries.
Canadian Trademarks
The “MC” label is a notice symbol used in Canada to designate a common law trademark.  In the US, common-law marks are identified, if their owners choose to identify them, with a “TM” designation.  The TM symbol conveys that the owner considers the mark associated with the TM to be a trademark, but has not registered the mark federally.  Federally registered marks can carry the ® label.  Similarly, Canada has a dual-mode notice system that differentiates between registered and unregistered marks.  The symbols ® or MD indicate that a mark is registered with the Canadian Trademark Office, and the symbols TM or MC indicate the mark is not registered.  MD stands for Marque Déposée, and MC stands for Marque de Commerce.  The MD and MC versions are more frequently used in the French side of Canada to the eastern part of the country, but frequently large distributors will simply mark their products with both the English and the French designations.  In Quebec, some will even use an E in a circle (for “enrigistrée”) in place of the English symbol ®. (for “registered”).

Having seen this mark in Arizona, a long way from Quebec, I am surprised that Starbucks is branding its products so widely and consistently.