The T in USPTO (Unites States Patent and Trademark Office), you should have just learned, stands for Trademark. Their TSDR (Trademark Status & Document Retrieval) api deals with trademarks. If you’ve used it recently, you probably noticed that they now require an api key, which you can get by registering with them. Their Swagger-UI page is at https://developer.uspto.gov/swagger/tsdr-api-v1 but it doesn’t allow you to enter your now-required api key and it has a number of other omissions (listed in my github repo). Further, their api does not accept browser requests coming from domains other than their own (they’re blocked by CORS policy), which is why the Swagger-UI page I created does not work (though the generated curl commands work and my modified swagger object can be imported into postman from https://mustberuss.github.io/TSDR-Swagger/myswagger_v1_tsdr_uspto.json). I emailed them to point out these problems but they have not updated their Swagger-UI page or allow CORS requests.
I’ve been down this road before, I cannot get the patentsview people to adopt the Swagger-UI page I created for their api. Using an api’s Swagger-UI page can be a great way to learn the ins and outs of an api, but it takes a little cooperation from the api provider! By contrast, the Swagger-UI page for the USPTO’s PEDS (Patent Examination Data System) api works as it should, without my involvement.
There are around 11,000 registration certificates that are not online. They correspond to dead trademarks that have no legal standing. I was researching tool companies that held some of these missing trademarks. I requested copies from the patent office through a patent librarian I know. On one request I mixed up the serial number and registration number of the trademark I was interested in. The former number is not that useful and the latter is all important. On the other end of my request was an intern at the patent office. When I met her in person, I related the tale of how she schooled me on my rookie mistake. The group around us burst into laughter, it turned out she had been a teacher at some point and schooling people was nothing new to her!
Mike White’s excellent US Trademark number guide succinctly explains the trademark numbering peculiarities brought about by the Trademark Act of 1946. When my son was younger, he liked the cartoon Ben 10 which has a Null Void- somewhere in dimensional space that you don’t want to wind up. One of the side effects of the 1946 Trademark Act was that it created a Null Void of registration numbers (for reasons too complex to explain in parenthesis, registration numbers 444,812 through 500,000 where never issued). The request I was schooled on was a request for a “registration number” 493,259, which was never issued. The registration certificate is online, where its serial and registration numbers can be seen if you don’t interchange them. (Some of the above is excerpted from this article.)
Question: When is a design patent not a design patent?
Answer: When it is a trademark’s registration certificate of course!
Just when I thought I’d seen it all I came across this on uspto.gov:
Design patent D17061’s drawing page is for a dish design but the specification page is actually the registration certificate for trademark 17061. A simple enough mistake right? But here’s the twist, the registration certificate online is almost illegible and is stamped ‘Best Available Copy’ but they’re wrong! The best copy is in D17061 which looks just about perfect!
Continue reading “An Interesting Design Patent!”