What is trademark docketing?
Alt Legal Team | March 18, 2020
At its most basic level, trademark docketing is keeping track of statuses and the numerous deadlines associated with trademark applications and registrations. Before the advent of software and databases, docketing would have been done manually with a journal or calendar. Some attorneys still use manual processes like these although most are discouraged for malpractice reasons (more on that here). Indeed, most calendaring and journaling today is done electronically.
Why do I need trademark docketing software?
A single trademark application may have upwards of a dozen or more deadlines (including use filings, office action responses, final refusals, and others) before the trademark is registered. After registration, there are regular renewal and use filings such as the USPTO section 8 and section 9 declarations that are necessary to maintain your trademark registration. For example, with USPTO trademark registrations, these deadlines can occur at 6- and 10-year marks, making them particularly difficult to track over time.
If a mark is ever opposed before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in the United States, the TTAB process will require you to docket TTAB deadlines that could extend multiple years. This task is compounded with complexity as likely extensions will cause deadline changes.
While keeping track of these deadlines may seem simple or straightforward for one or two filings, the deadlines add up quickly, and keeping track of deadlines years or even more than a decade away can be intimidating. And the consequences for missing a deadline can be severe: missed deadlines can lead to the loss of a trademark, additional fees, and (understandably) upset clients. This is where trademark docketing software comes in.
How is docketing different from data entry?
With some docketing solutions, the docketer’s main task is manually typing in information about a filing and calculating and calendaring deadlines by hand. With Alt Legal, data entry is eliminated for USPTO trademarks, including almost all deadline calculation and all calendaring. Thus, the role of the docketer changes substantially. Instead of spending time typing in information about filings and calculating deadlines (including adjusting for holidays and weekends), the docketer can instead do more substantial tasks, like communicating with clients and assisting with filings.
What should I look for in trademark docketing software?
The simplest trademark docketing systems will allow you to input deadlines received from IP offices and alert you when the deadlines are approaching. Beyond these features, the most important features to watch for in your trademark docketing software are: automation, deadline calculation, document storage, reminders about deadlines, reporting tools, and tools for communicating with clients and/or colleagues.
Automation not only saves the docketer time, but it also significantly reduces the chances of human error. Different docketing systems define automation differently. Some systems just calculate deadlines, while others retrieve basic mark information from some IP offices. Alt Legal’s automated docketing detects new filings and adds them to the docket. It also updates statuses and calculates deadlines without manual data entry.
More sophisticated trademark docketing software, like Alt Legal, will automatically calculate deadlines based on statuses and status dates and for some jurisdictions even automatically detect filings and update statuses and deadlines for you.
Reminders about deadlines
Alt Legal sends daily email notifications to remind filers of deadlines and keep them apprised of changes to filing statuses.
For some jurisdictions, Alt Legal automatically collects documents like applications, registration certificates, office actions, and drawings. It also allows users to upload their own documents and provides a platform for keeping detailed notes about conversations with clients, colleagues, and co-counsel.
Most docketing systems have built-in tools for creating reports to distribute work or keep clients and colleagues informed. Alt Legal’s powerful reporting lets you create custom reports with just a few clicks.
With Alt Legal, you can send pre-populated emails or letters to inform clients and colleagues about the statuses of their filings. If you’d like, you can even provide clients and colleagues with read-only access to see their trademark filings.
No matter how you manage your docket, it’s important that you keep track of your deadlines and give yourself plenty of time to communicate with clients and colleagues to ensure responses are timely.
What are Data Migration and Exportability, and why do they matter?
Data migration is a critical aspect of getting docketing software up and running. Some vendors, like Alt Legal, will provide free data migration, while others will charge you to become their customer. You’ll want to carefully check the terms of the contract.
Data exportability is also a critical factor. What happens to your data if you leave the service? Some vendors will charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars to export your data for you and will not allow you to export the data directly to give to another vendor for data migration. Check the terms of service for what they allow and disallow (e.g., see section 6 of our terms of service indicating that you have the right to export your data out of Alt Legal without charge).
What else can docketing software do?
Alt Legal’s IP docketing software doesn’t just help once an application has been submitted, however; the software also has tools to help file trademarks. Alt Legal’s Forms allow legal professionals to send clients or colleagues questions in plain English and then directly transfer the relevant information to USPTO patent and trademark applications. With just a few clicks, applications are filled in and ready to be submitted.
Additionally, you should consider looking for docketing software that integrates with trademark monitoring and watch tools to help you protect your trademarks. Alt Legal offers Alt Legal Trademark Protection, a cost-effective monitoring and watch solution, that is available as an optional add-on service to Alt Legal IP Docketing Software. Alt Legal Trademark Protection includes Trademark Application Match and §2(d) Trademark Watch, a set of fully-automated monitoring and watch tools that you can use seamlessly with your Alt Legal IP Docketing software to provide you with an integrated docketing and full US-docket monitoring experience.
What else should I check for when pricing docketing software?
Some docketing systems may seem inexpensive until you realize how little is included. Some systems charge for additional users, client access, migrations, and even support. Alt Legal’s automated docketing software includes unlimited users, unlimited clients, free and easy migrations, and free and unlimited support. We’re here to help you succeed!