Last week, a petition urged the U.S. Supreme Court to review the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) rule mandating that trademark applicants disclose their domicile address. The USPTO’s rule does provide applicants with an option to keep their domicile information private, if they simultaneously provide a separate mailing address that can be viewed by the public. This rule, in effect since August 2019, aims to authenticate applicants and reduce fraud. However, the Petitioner claims that privacy concerns are implicated for applicants that are unaware of the alternative to provide a separate mailing address (or that do not have one), which can result in applicants having their home addresses published.

Upon initial challenge, which attempted to show the USPTO’s promulgation of the rule violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA),  the Federal Circuit upheld the rule, classifying it as procedural and thus exempt from the APA’s notice-and-comment requirements. Opponents of the rule argue that the Federal Circuit overlooked statutory obligations and privacy impacts, insisting that the rule should undergo formal rulemaking. They contend that the USPTO exceeded its authority in promulgating the rule and urge the Supreme Court to address the privacy implications of the rule, among other implications. A review by the Supreme Court could lead to a decision that significantly influences trademark application protocols and the balance between regulatory measures and privacy rights.