TMEP 611.06(d): Signature by Corporation

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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611.06(d)    Signature by Corporation

Where a document must be signed by someone with legal authority to bind a corporation, a corporate officer must sign.  An officer is a person who holds an office established in the articles of incorporation or corporate bylaws.

The usual titles for officers are President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer.  In some organizations, the Treasurer is called a Comptroller or Controller, and these terms are acceptable.  In Maine and Massachusetts the term "Clerk" identifies an officer of a corporation.

Modifications of these basic titles are acceptable if they include the officer title.  Titles such as Vice-President for Sales, Executive Vice-President, Assistant Treasurer, Executive Secretary, and Administrative Secretary are acceptable.

The signature of the "Chairman" or "Chairman of the Board of Directors" is also acceptable, but not the signature of an individual director (e.g., the Vice-Chairman of the Board).  The terms "Executive Secretary" and "Administrative Secretary" are acceptable because they include the officer-title "Secretary."

Some titles are generally not accepted because they usually do not identify officers.  For instance, a General Manager, or any other type of manager, is usually merely an employee, not an officer.

If the applicant or registrant states that the person who signed the response is authorized to bind the applicant or registrant under the articles of incorporation or bylaws, the USPTO will accept the signature.

A corporation cannot delegate authority to sign to someone who is not a corporate officer. In re Textron, Inc., 183 USPQ 301 (Comm'r Pats. 1974).  Therefore, documents purporting to authorize representation, even if signed by officers, will not be accepted as establishing authority of a person who does not have authority to legally bind the corporation under its bylaws or articles of incorporation.

When the applicant or registrant is a corporation, a statement that the signatory is an "officer" or "duly authorized officer" of the corporation is acceptable.  However, it is unacceptable to state that the person who signed the verification is an "authorized signatory."