What are the stages of an Interference proceeding?
Under this section, the applicant may either attempt to negotiate and reach an agreement with the applicant of the rival application for coexistence of both trademarks or challenge the examiner’s decision by filing a response arguing against similarity between the marks.
If an agreement between both applicants is reached, the agreement must be submitted for approval by the Trademark Commissioner.
In the case an agreement is not reached or the examiner rejects applicant’s arguments against similarity between the marks, a Rival Claims Proceeding is initiated wherein each of the parties is required to submit evidence in support of preferring registration of its trademark over the rival trademark.
The evidence should be supported by an affidavit by the relevant person in the applicant and may also include an expert opinion.
The proceeding also includes an oral hearing in which the persons signing the affidavits are cross-examined by the adverse party, and filing of summation thereafter.
The proceeding is decided based on three factors (the last two are of greater importance): (1) the filing date of each application (2) filing of the application in good faith (3) extent of use of the mark and reputation acquired in it. Among the three, the last two are considered to be the registrar’s main examinations.
Summation – At the end of the hearing, each party is required to present its summation, the objector being the first and the applicant follows. However, the Registrar may allow the parties to file their summations in writing at a later date.
Decision – After both parties have presented or submitted their summations, the Registrar issues a decision concerning the registration of the trademark.