Trademark solicitation scams are on the rise. If you receive correspondence about your trademarks from someone other than your trademark attorneys — correspondence that looks like an invoice or an offer for trademark services — it may not be legitimate. Here’s a summary of what the scams look like and what
you should do about them.
The Trademark Scam.
Fraudulent third parties continue to mislead trademark owners by using official-sounding names such as “Patent & Trademark Office” and “Trademark and Patent Office.” For example, on August 21, 2017, three individuals behind the companies “Trademark Compliance Center” and “Trademark Compliance Office” were sentenced to prison after being convicted of money laundering in a trademark renewal scam that defrauded over 4,400 trademark owners of $1.66 million.
The scam works like this: armed with publicly available contact information and trademark details extracted from the USPTO database, third parties send targeted notices to trademark owners requesting payment to “publish,” “register,” or “record” trademarks or to provide “renewal services.” The services offered are often overpriced, unreliable, and possibly duplicative of work already performed by trademark counsel. Some services, such as offers to list a trademark on a “private registry,” are simply unnecessary. Other notices appear to be past due invoices. Once trademark owners send payment to these third parties, they are often left without recourse, regardless of whether they receive inferior service or no service at all.
All legitimate USPTO correspondence regarding your trademark application or registration will be from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office” in Alexandria, Virginia, or, if sent by email, from an address ending in “@uspto.gov.” For additional information, including a list of known scammers and sample solicitations, check out the USPTO’s website.
What to Do If You Receive a Scam Solicitation.
If you receive correspondence regarding your trademark and are uncertain about its validity, retain the solicitation and the envelope. These documents can help support a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission should you choose to file one. Talk to your trademark counsel for advice on how to avoid payment of unnecessary fees and to ensure that no action has been taken that could harm your trademark.