Trademark registration holders have increasingly been receiving deceptive notices soliciting money for services related to the renewal or monitoring of their patent and trademark registrations. Scammers attempt to make such notices look like authentic government documents and they use official-sounding names like the International Patent and Trademark Register, the U.S. Trademark Compliance Office, and the World Organization for Trademarks. Some organizations offer useless services like filing a patent or trademark in their own private registry while others do not perform the promised services at all.
Since trademark and patent registrations list applicants’ addresses as public information on the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website, scammers can easily access who has filed for intellectual property protection and when their trademark or patent is ready to be renewed. Therefore, the information on these solicitations is often accurate which can make the documents appear legitimate and, indeed, many sophisticated businesspeople and attorneys have been fooled by these scammers. (To save clients the confusion, HBA always uses our firm’s address rather than clients’ addresses on trademark applications so that fraudulent solicitations are sent to us directly.)
While some of these solicitations have fine print that disclaims any affiliation with a government entity, others do not, like the example below.
Several federal agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, have investigated these widespread scams, but scammers with sophisticated operations can be difficult to track down. Recently, the Department of Justice successfully convicted five individuals for carrying out a mass mailing scam targeting trademark holders.
Please be advised that any legitimate correspondence about your trademark and patent registrations will either be from your counsel or from the United States Patent and Trademark Office located in Alexandria, Virginia, and all emails will be from the domain @uspto.gov. The USPTO will remind registrants of renewal deadlines, but they will not ask for money in these notices. Never pay money or send anything to someone you have not previously dealt with directly. If you are not sure whether a notice is authentic, please reach out to our office or another attorney, file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, or consult the Trademark Assistance Center. The USPTO also maintains a list of confirmed fraudulent organizations on their website.