Domicile refers to the place where a person has their permanent home or principal residence. It is the place where a person intends to return to whenever they are absent. A person can have only one domicile, although they may have multiple residences. In legal contexts, a person’s domicile can be important because it can determine which laws and regulations apply to them.
USPTO Requires Representation by Qualified U.S. Attorney for Applicants, Registrants Domiciled Outside of United States
- If an applicant, registrant, or party to a proceeding has a domicile outside of the United States or its territories, they must be represented by a qualified U.S. attorney.
- To be qualified, the attorney must be an active member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of a U.S. state, Commonwealth, or territory or the District of Columbia.
- If an applicant or registrant has a domicile within the United States or its territories, they may represent themselves or may be represented by a qualified U.S. attorney.
- In the case of joint owners, if any single owner has a domicile in the United States, the applicants or registrants are not required to appoint a qualified U.S. attorney unless the U.S. address appears to be incorrect.
- The USPTO cannot assist in selecting a qualified attorney, but interested parties can consult telephone listings or the internet, or contact the attorney referral service of a U.S. state or local bar association for names of attorneys licensed to practice law in the U.S. and handle trademark matters.
- More information about selecting a U.S.-licensed trademark attorney can be found on the USPTO website.
- Understanding Where You Live and Where Your Business Is Based
Understanding Where You Live and Where Your Business Is Based
- To determine the domicile of a natural person (an individual), it is the permanent legal place of residence where the person lives and considers to be their main home.
- For a juristic entity (a business), the domicile is the primary place of business, which is typically the headquarters where the entity’s senior executives or officers usually direct and control the entity’s activities and is usually the center from which other locations are controlled.
- The domicile of an applicant or registrant is usually determined based on their street address.
- A post office box, a “care of” (c/o) address, an address provided by a mail forwarding service, or other similar variations cannot usually be considered a domicile address because they do not identify the location of the person’s main home (for a natural person) or the location of the business’s headquarters (for a juristic entity).
- In some cases, the USPTO may require an applicant or registrant to provide additional information or documentation to support their domicile address.
Procedures for Applicants and Registrants with Foreign Domiciles
- If an applicant or registrant lists a foreign address as their domicile and does not have a qualified U.S. attorney to represent them, the USPTO will issue an Office action requiring them to appoint a qualified U.S. attorney and provide their bar information
- This requirement does not apply to initial Section 66(a) applications, which are transmitted to the USPTO by the International Bureau and generally do not include an appointment of a U.S. attorney
- If the applicant or registrant responds to the Office action by appointing a qualified U.S. attorney, the requirement will be withdrawn
- If the applicant or registrant responds by changing their domicile to a U.S. address, the procedures in TMEP Section 606.01(b) will be followed
- If they change their domicile to a U.S. post-office box or other similar address, the procedures in TMEP Section 601.01(b)(1) will be followed
- If the only issue in the Office action is the requirement to appoint a qualified U.S. attorney or provide additional information, the applicant or registrant may seek review by filing a petition to the Director
- Amendments to the application or registration are not allowed if the applicant or registrant is clearly foreign-domiciled and has not appointed a qualified U.S. attorney
- If it is not clear whether the applicant or registrant is foreign-domiciled, an Office action will be issued requiring them to clarify their domicile and appoint a qualified U.S. attorney if necessary.
Procedures for Applicants and Registrants with US Address
- If you have a U.S. address listed as your domicile in any submission to the USPTO, you may appoint a qualified U.S. attorney as your representative, but it is not generally required.
- The USPTO may ask you to provide documentation to support your U.S. address if it appears incorrect.
- If you are a foreign citizen or entity with a U.S. address and you do not have a qualified U.S. attorney, the examining attorney or post-registration specialist may ask you to appoint one or provide documentation supporting your U.S. address.
- If you provide acceptable documentation supporting your U.S. address, you do not need to appoint a qualified U.S. attorney.
- If you do not appoint a qualified U.S. attorney or provide the necessary information to support your U.S. address, the examining attorney may issue a final action on the requirement to appoint a qualified U.S. attorney and any other unresolved issues in your application.
- If you do not respond in a post-registration matter, the post-registration specialist may issue a second action maintaining the requirements to appoint a qualified U.S. attorney and resolve any other unresolved issues.
- Examples of documents that can support a U.S. address include a signed rental agreement, homeowner’s insurance policy, or utility bill for an individual, or a recent annual report or rental agreement for a juristic entity.