Trademark-Related Solicitation Scams
Have you received an official-looking letter or invoice from the Patent & Trademark Agency located in New York City? How about one from the Trademark Compliance Office in Arlington, VA? These are two of the several companies that offer what they call “trademark-related services.” These companies use terms that resemble an official agency name including one or more of the terms “United States,” “U.S.,” “Trademark,” “Patent,” “Registration,” “Office,” or “Agency.” Many of these solicitations will even contain accurate information about your trademark registration and cite correct information, such as the requirement that a registration must be renewed every 10 years. One common theme with all of these solicitations is they are seeking fees for services that have no legal significance to your trademark registration.
If read carefully, the solicitations provide useless services such as listing the application on an internet database or sending a reminder that an issued registration is up for renewal sometime in the future. Some of the solicitations don’t even disclose what services they are providing. These worthless notices are convincing and tend to solicit significant amounts of money from the trademark owner, often exceeding the actual fees necessary to register a trademark. Unfortunately, some trademark owners pay these invoices, believing they are legitimate, official invoices, because they are unaware of the scams and do not read the solicitations carefully.
Below are some examples of known companies that regularly send fraudulent solicitations to our clients. Please visit our website at www.ptslaw.com or bit.ly/trademarkscams for a complete list of offenders that we have encountered recently.
– Intellectual Property Agency Ltd. (U.K.)
– Patent & Trademark Bureau (Philadelphia, PA)
– Patent & Trademark Resource Center (Seattle & Woodinville, WA)
– Patent and Trademark Organization (New York, NY)
– Patent Trademark Register (Origin Unknown)
– Registration of International Trademark WDTP (Czech Republic)
– Trademark Office Ltd. (New York, NY)
– U.S. Trademark Compliance Office (Wilmington, DE)
– WIPT World Patents Trademarks (Slovak Republic)
– WPAT World Patents Trademarks (Slovak Republic)
These companies send hundreds if not thousands of solicitations annually. And, because these companies are providing a service (a legally valueless service) in exchange for the fees they con victims into paying, they are technically not breaking the law. Therefore, once you pay them you have no recourse.
Any official postal correspondence regarding your trademark registration or application in the United States will be from the United States Patent and Trademark Office with an address in Alexandria, Virginia. Any emails related to your trademark registration or application will be from the domain @uspto.gov. For non-US registrations and applications, official correspondence will also be from official government agencies. Warnings regarding fraudulent solicitations may also be found on the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s website or at bit.ly/wipowarnings. Also note, if an intellectual property attorney or firm files your trademark registration application on your behalf, any official correspondence regarding that application will be sent to that attorney or law firm.
If you ever have a question about your trademark registration or application, you should contact your intellectual property attorney. Or you can always contact the USPTO or non-US agency directly and ask about the status of your registration or application.
For more information about protecting your trademarks, contact Tye Biasco at Biasco@ptslaw.com or 612.349.3010