Game Theory Group

The Blockchain Brief

Exclusive Interview with Cognate Founder: Trademarks Made Simple On the Blockchain

“Wow, I had such a simple, quick and affordable experience registering my trademark with the USPTO” – No one ever.
Despite not being an enjoyable or quick process, trademarks are essential for any individual or company looking to protect their brand.
So, what exactly are trademarks and why are they important? 
A trademark is any word, name, symbol or design, which serves to identify the source of goods and services sold in commerce as originating from a particular owner. In other words, it gives customers a shorthand way to know the source of the goods/services they're buying, and prevents customer confusion.
The current process for registering a trademark looks something like this: 
1) Hire an attorney
Trademark filing is confusing and complex. So, it might not be a surprise that 42% of all trademark applications with the USPTO are rejected. It is very common for trademark owners to seek professional counsel to increase the likelihood of having their application accepted. (Note: This is not required) 
2) File the application
The USPTO has an online application portal. Filing fees start at $225 per mark, per classification (or industry). If the filer chooses to hire an attorney, that will usually cost $1,000 or more. 
3) Wait…wait… and more waiting
Once the application is filed, it will be months before the applicant hears back from the PTO. In many cases, the examining attorney at the PTO will require more information or clarification on certain parts of the application, creating even more delay. The total average pendency from application to registration with the PTO is 10 months.

If only there was an easy way to file trademarks and have them immutably recorded on the blockchain…

Enter Cognate

Cognate is a website where individuals or companies can easily prove their trademark use and ownership and have them recorded on the Ethereum blockchain at a fraction of the time and cost.  


So how does filing a trademark on the Cognate platform work?
1) Quick online form
Fill out a simple online form in ~5 minutes. This includes providing a "specimen" or proof showing how a trademark is being used.
2) Behind the scenes magic
Cognate reviews the proof using an algorithm to make sure it meets Cognate's standards of showing "use" of a trademark. 
3) Recorded on the Ethereum blockchain.
Cognate creates a blockchain-based record for the trademark. This record (including the proof document) is timestamped and immutable, and can be used to enforce or defend trademark rights. The trademark then exists as a blockchain-based asset that can be held in a wallet, so users can add additional records to reflect new or continued use of the mark, and/or easily transfer ownership of the trademark.
The entire process usually takes between 1-2 days… Compare that to 10 months.
I had the chance to catch up with the founder of Cognate, Bennett Collen, for this week’s Blockchain Brief video interview. They are taking a forward-looking approach to streamlining the trademark process, and hopefully one day uprooting an archaic government system. Hit the play button below! 

Disclosure: This is not to say that Cognate is a replacement for the USPTO. Companies using Cognate should still seek legal advice regarding the best strategies for protecting their trademark rights, and a federal registration is usually best practice. But Cognate can be done immediately, and helps owners of both registered and unregistered trademarks make timestamped, tamperproof records of their trademark rights.
To learn more about Cognate and to get in touch with Bennett: