A domestic representative is someone in the United States who registers for a trademark or applies for a patent on behalf of another person who does not live in the US.
Trademark registration and applications for patents must be carried out by US residents. Therefore, someone who lives outside of the US will usually appoint a domestic representative to register or apply instead of himself or herself.
Further, in case of legal action against an application or registration, the representative will act as an agent. The domestic representative can be an individual, firm, corporation, union, association or any other organization.
Although domestic representatives may act on behalf of another party, they are not to be confused with power of attorney. Domestic representatives do not have any immediate authority in decision making throughout the application or registration process. Instead, the representative is used as an aid to bring intellectual property under US jurisdiction.
A domestic representative can help you register your intellectual property in the United States, which can be key in establishing trademark priority. In the US, if a specific trademark is used before anyone else, the first person to use it claims priority over that mark in their geographical area. Moreover, the owner of the trademark will typically gain national priority by registering the mark with the USPTO.
If you are living outside of the US and don’t plan on residing there in the near future, you may worry about the rights to your trademark. A domestic representative can give you peace of mind by claiming trademark priority while you're overseas.
The right to designate a new domestic representative is available to intellectual property owners. In order to update this information with the USPTO, you must scan your contract with the new representative. Next, you will be asked to submit an affidavit or declaration and file a renewal application or amendment of your registration to include your new domestic representative’s information.
Furthermore, if you have been appointed as a domestic representative for an IP owner and wish to withdraw from that role, you can do so for any reason through the USPTO website.
Living abroad but interested in establishing your trademark or patent in the United States? You may want to look into appointing a trustworthy domestic representative.
Contact one of our IP attorneys if you have any more questions or are unsure whether a representative is right for you.