Watch out for Trademark Scams

The United States Patent and Trademark Office recently issued a warning that “private companies not associated with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) often use trademark application and registration information from the USPTO’s databases to mail or e-mail trademark-related solicitations” which may include offers:

  1. for legal services;
  2. for trademark monitoring services;
  3. to record trademarks with U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and
  4. to “register” trademarks in the company’s own private registry.

Download the USPTO trademark warning

These solicitors are not affiliated with the USPTO. They use deceptive names that resemble the “United States Patent and Trademark Office” on materials that “mimic the look of official government documents rather than the look of a typical commercial or legal solicitation.”

Listed below are some hints to ensure that you are really dealing with the USPTO and not an impersonator:

  1. Did an attorney file your application? Typically, if an attorney filed your application, the attorney was listed as the “Attorney Correspondent” and once listed, all communication from the USPTO must be with this attorney, and not directly with the applicant.
     
  2. Confirm the correspondence is from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office” located in Alexandria, VA, and if by e-mail, specifically from the domain “@uspto.gov.”
     
  3. Any time correspondence indicates “fees” need to be paid – were the fees something you expected in the regular course of prosecuting the trademark application or renewing it?

We recommend you ignore these types of messages (if there is any question, you can forward on to us for review). That said, however, please let us know if you learn of unauthorized use of your trademark in connection with similar goods and services.

If you believe you have fallen victim to a deceptive trademark-related solicitation, you may file an online consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.FTC.gov. You may contact the USPTO about these misleading communications at TMFeedback@uspto.gov. If notifying the USPTO about a misleading communication please also remember to:

  1. Include a copy of the communication (including the envelope it came in), if available;
  2. Indicate whether the recipient thought the communication was an official U.S government communication or had to ask an attorney or the USPTO whether it was legitimate;
  3. Indicate whether fees were mistakenly paid in response to the communication, and, if so, provide a copy of the cancelled check. Please also specify what services, if any, were provided in exchange for the payment made.

Please let us know if you have any questions or if we can do anything else to help.