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Financial Trademarks 1976-2008

In 1996 there were just 67,000 Class 36 trademarks on file with the USPTO. But in the last decade, that number has more than tripled. Today, there are around 250,000 registered financial trademarks. In 2008, the financial industry saw the largest increase in financial trademarks in the last decade, adding 13,864 new trademarks (see Table 2 below).

Key Takeaway: Securing a trademark in the financial industry is getting harder every day. Register your financial institution’s trademarks before someone beats you to it. And be careful coming up with new names, even for things like products and services. Make sure any new brand names you want to use aren’t already being used by someone else.

Reality Check: Any financial institution savvy enough to register its trademarks might be inclined to do whatever it takes to protect their brand assets even if you are thousands of miles away.

Bottom Line: It only takes a couple minutes to look up a financial trademark at the USPTO — time well spent if you save yourself a mountain of headaches down the road. Relative to the potential consequences if you don’t register your trademarks, the cost is basically nothing.

Tip: While you can register your own trademarks directly with the USPTO, you should

Table 1. Financial Trademarks 1998-2008

Year Trademarks %
1998 159,913 3.02%
1999 164,571 2.91%
2000 171,334 4.11%
2001 178,392 4.12%
2002 188,259 5.53%
2003 196,926 4.60%
2004 204,490 3.84%
2005 212,259 3.80%
2006 222,685 4.91%
2007 234,245 5.19%
2008 248,109 5.92%

Table 2. Financial Trademark Applications vs. Registrations

Year Applications Approvals %
Approved
1998 10,690 4,686 43.8%
1999 17,347 4,658 26.9%
2000 20,564 6,763 32.9%
2001 13,024 7,058 54.2%
2002 12,123 9,867 81.4%
2003 12,819 8,667 67.6%
2004 14,318 7,564 52.8%
2005 16,148 7,769 48.1%
2006 17,659 10,426 59.0%
2007 19,171 11,560 60.3%
2008 16,387 13,134 80.1%

In 1999, the USPTO only approved 1-in-4 financial trademark applications, or around 25%. In 2008, the USPTO approved 4-out-of-5 financial trademark applications, or about 80% (see Table 2 above).

There were 2,784 fewer applications for financial trademarks in 2008 vs. 2007, off 15% in 2008. But the USPTO approved 1,574 more applications in 2008 (Table 2).

Table 3. Monthly Trademark Applications in Class 36

Month 2007 2008
January 1,605 1,385
February 1,525 1,448
March 1,776 1,449
April 1,667 1,606
May 1,796 1,458
June 1,707 1,396
July 1,496 1,300
August 1,700 1,305
September 1,390 1,349
October 1,631 1,637
November 1,565 1,570
December 1,313 1,340

There were 2,784 fewer applications for financial trademarks in 2008 vs. 2007, off 15% in 2008. But the USPTO approved 1,574 more applications in 2008.

Table 4. Monthly Approved Trademarks Applications in Class 36

Month 2007 2008
January 1,025 1,087
February 676 946
March 641 938
April 746 1,101
May 909 1,189
June 564 1,219
July 1,057 1,431
August 969 1,083
September 925 1,101
October 1,907 1,102
November 1,166 828
December 975 1,113
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