The Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure is published to give trademark Examining Attorneys, trademark applicants, and trademark attorneys an understanding of the rules and procedures regarding requirements for a trademark application to be registered with the USPTO.
The Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (TMEP) is one of the most important documents for trademark Examining Attorneys, trademark applicants and trademark lawyers who apply for trademark registrations on behalf of clients. The TMEP outlines the rules and procedures that trademark Examining Attorneys follow while reviewing trademark applications. Because it lays out the rules for trademark application examination, it is important trademark attorneys and trademark applicants know the rules and procedures too.
An online version of the TMEP can be found here. Above is a screenshot of the forward of the TMEP explaining its purpose with individual sections on the sidebar where users can jump to relevant sections they are researching.
The TMEP is broken up into 19 different sections that are broad overviews of different aspects of the trademark application process. Some of the sections included are General Information, Procedure for Examining Applications, and Substantive Examination of Applications. The table of contents is particularly useful for trademark attorneys researching issues for their clients by allowing them to jump right to the relevant section of the TMEP. Another helpful tool to narrow in on a particular issue quickly is by using the search bar feature of the online TMEP.
The full Table of Contents of the TMEP with the search bar at the top right.
In addition to outlining practices and guidelines for the trademark application process, the TMEP also contains useful information interpreting the statutory requirements for trademark registration. As trademark lawyers know, simple rules and statutes can be interpreted many different ways. The TMEP gives examples that help guide Examining Attorneys and trademark applicants on how certain rules should be interpreted.
One example of many instances of the TMEP providing helpful insight into trademark law is on trademark functionality. Section 2(e)(5) of the Lanham Act states that a trademark cannot be registered on the Principal Register if it is a trademark that “as a whole, is functional.” There has been a lot of litigation about what this one section of the Lanham Act means because reasonable people can come to different conclusions on what makes something functional. The TMEP helps clear up the issue for trademark Examining Attorneys and trademark applicants by citing relevant district court and Trademark Trial and Appeal Board cases, and a Supreme Court decision on the issue.
Above is the TMEP explanation of what is and is not functional based on a Supreme Court decision on the issue of trademark functionality.
The TMEP is revised and updated on a regular basis to incorporate any changes or updates in trademark law. As of the posting of this blog, the last revision was in October of 2017.
Do you have any questions about the TMEP, where to find it or how to use it? Leave us a comment or contact us and we will do our best to help you out.