48:4 Is the Trademark Office a Rubber Stamp?

Trademark: Today and Tomorrow


Surprisingly, we still lack basic information concerning trademark application “grant rates” (i.e., the percentage of trademark applications that result in registration) at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. We thus lack data that are crucial to assessing, among much else, overall “trademark quality” at the PTO (i.e., the reliability of trademark registration status at the PTO as an indication of actual trademark validity). Working from a previously unstudied dataset covering U.S. federal trademark applications since the late nineteenth century, this paper reports and analyzes U.S. federal trademark application grant rates along a variety of dimensions, including by year and basis of application, by type of mark, by country of applicant, and by industry category and goods and services classification. The paper focuses in particular on the 27-year period from 1981 to 2007, during which the PTO received some 4.2 million applications for trademark registration and with respect to which the dataset’s data appear to be especially reliable.