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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is proposing to impose new obligations on many trademark applicants and registrants. In a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) issued February 15, 2019, the agency said it is looking to require that any trademark applicant or registrant whose domicile or principal place of business is not located within the United States (U.S.) or its territories be represented by an attorney who is an active member in good standing of a state bar in the U.S. (including the District of Columbia and any Commonwealth or territory of the U.S.).

The USPTO anticipates imposing this requirement, it said, due to an increase in foreign applicants “filing inaccurate and possibly fraudulent submissions that violate the Trademark Act (Act) and/or the USPTO’s rules.” The agency is especially concerned with foreign applicants filing applications claiming use of a mark in commerce, and supporting the use claim with mocked-up or digitally altered specimens indicative of the mark not actually being used in commerce. The USPTO believes that these filings are being done on the advice, or with the assistance, of foreign individuals and entities not authorized to represent trademark applicants before the USPTO.

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