Friday 5 April 2024

U.S. Government Accountability Office Report on Impact of 2020 Trademark Modernization Act and Fraud

Pursuant to the 2020 Trademark Modernization Act (TMA), the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report examining fraud at the U.S.Trademark Office.  The GAO made recommendations to the Trademark Office to reduce the number of fraudulent trademark registrations.  The GAO reviewed the impact of changes made by the TMA and stated:

Based on our analysis of USPTO data for the period December 21, 2021, through June 27, 2023, we found that the USPTO Director and trademark attorneys representing their clients used the TMA’s new expungement and reexamination procedures to remove 2,615 falsely or inaccurately claimed goods and services from trademark registrations. Specifically: • Reexamination proceedings accounted for 1,955 of the removals compared to 660 removals resulting from expungement proceedings (see fig. 4). • Director-initiated proceedings accounted for 592 of the removals and third-party petitions accounted for 2,023 of the removals.

The GAO recommendations provide:

Recommendation 1: The Commissioner for Trademarks should plan and conduct regular fraud risk assessments of the trademark register to determine a fraud risk profile that aligns with leading practices in the Fraud Risk Framework. Specifically, this process should include (1) identifying inherent fraud risks to the trademark register, (2) assessing the likelihood and impact of inherent fraud risks, (3) determining fraud risk tolerance, (4) examining the suitability of existing fraud controls, and (5) documenting the fraud risk profile. Recommendation 2: The Commissioner for Trademarks should identify and implement improvements to current data systems to strengthen trademark data analytics for stronger fraud risk management.

The report also discusses other methods the U.S. Trademark Office uses to detect fraud such as post registration audits. 

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