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USPTO to start verifying identities, including with biometrics, for trademark submission

GSA to improve government’s digital ID services
USPTO to start verifying identities, including with biometrics, for trademark submission

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has unveiled plans of verifying individuals’ identities with face biometrics upon submission of trademarks and patents.

The institution made the announcement Thursday in a blog post by USPTO Director Kathi Vidal, and David Gooder, commissioner for Trademarks at the Office.

“Most folks in the trademark community know these names and the havoc they’ve wreaked on legitimate filers, scamming some out of tens of thousands of dollars or hijacking identities to file fraudulent submissions to disadvantage competitors,” reads the post.

“Their unscrupulous business operations are among the primary reasons why […] the USPTO is taking the important and necessary step of requiring all trademark filers to verify their identities as a condition for filing electronic trademark forms.”

The initiative first started in January 2022 as a voluntary procedure and will become mandatory starting August 6, 2022. It will reportedly include options for both paper and digital ID verification.

“During the voluntary period, we received thoughtful feedback and suggestions from stakeholders on ways to improve our automated verification process,” Vidal and Gooder wrote.

“We listened, and we have updated our original program to include more options and features for trademark filers.”

The program now includes biometric verification via an uploaded selfie and a copy of individuals’ government-issued ID, and a brief video interview with an online representative.

To safeguard individuals’ privacy, USPTO said selfies will be deleted from the system after 24 hours, and videos within 30 days from the interview.

Moving forward, Vidal and Gooder said the Office will soon be issuing a Federal Register Notice that will provide additional clarity and context on the user roles required to verify filers’ identities and thus facilitate the verification process further.

GSA to step up Login.gov online identity verification efforts

Spurred by last year’s Biden administration’s executive order to improve customer experience, the General Services Administration (GSA) said it now intends to step up its Login.gov digital ID efforts.

“We’ve got big aspirations there,” GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan told FNN. “My personal view is that this digital identity area is one that is in serious need of attention by the government.”

She also explained that, while government-issued photo IDs have been the “gold standard for identity,” it is now time for the government to release a digital ID version of that identity standard.

“When it comes to digital identity, I think we need to equally let people have access to a digital identity from the government that is secure, that protects their privacy and that is accessible to everyone, so we want to be able to offer this,” Carnahan said.

According to the executive, Login.gov currently counts about 60,000 veterans using Login.gov as an identity proofing service.

“We’re talking a lot to our customers about what their needs are. But we know the future is going to look different than the past. And GSA is going to try to be on the front lines of serving our customers so they can better serve the public,” Carnahan concluded.

The news comes months after GSA confirmed it will not use biometrics or liveness detection to verify individuals’ identities for the foreseeable future.

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