Beware Of Communications Allegedly From The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO)
In all legitimate lines of business, there are organizations that use covert methods to make money off of unsuspecting companies and individuals. Sometimes these businesses are scams. At other times they may not be scams, but they are attempting to solicit money for fees and services that are not necessary. This type of solicitation has recently been occurring among owners of U.S. trademark applications and registrations. Owners are receiving fraudulent e-mails and documents that appear to originate from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) but really are from private companies. These communications are not actually from the USPTO and should be ignored.
How To Know If A Communication Is From The USPTO
According to the USPTO, if a mailed communication is from them, it will have “United States Patent and Trademark Office” from Alexandria, Virginia on it. If the communication is an email, it will be from the domain “@uspto.gov”.
Many of the private companies will have names that are similar to the USPTO, including “Trademark,” “Patent,” “Office,” and “Agency.” Determining whether or not a communication is from the actual USPTO or a private company can be difficult; when in doubt, a trademark owner or applicant should contact the actual USPTO or an IP lawyer. The USPTO also keeps a list of companies that have been known to send out solicitations. Some of these names are listed below, and it is easy to see why trademark owners and applicants are confused and believe the communication they are receiving is from the USPTO:
- Patent & Trademark Renewal Services (Washington, DC)
- Patent & Trademark Office (Washington, DC)
- Brand Registration Office (Washington, DC)
- Patent & Trademark Agency (New York, NY)
- Patent and Trademark Bureau (Philadelphia, PA)
- Patent & Trademark Office (New York, NY)
- Patent & Trademark Resource Center (Various locations in WA)
- Patent and Trademark Office (Washington, DC)
- Trademark and Patent Office (Los Angeles, CA)
- Trademark Compliance Center (Alexandria, VA)
- Trademark Compliance Center (Washington, DC)
- Trademark Office Ltd. (New York, NY)
- U.S. Trademark Compliance Office (Wilmington, DE)
- U.S. Trademark Compliance Service (Phoenix, AZ)
- WTMR World Trademark Register (Washington, DC)
- WTP Trademark Publication (Miami, FL)
- WTP Trademark Publication (Fresh Meadows, NY)
- WT Worldwide Trademarks Ltd. (Claymont, DE)
The USPTO also states that owners of U.S. trademark applications and registrations should be aware of communications that:
- Spoof the USPTO e-mail address (e.g., “firstname.lastname@example.org” or others under the domain “@uspto.gov”);
- Falsely claim that the USPTO has a new policy requiring separate registration of “clients” and that there is a “penalty” for not complying;
- Provide incorrect USPTO trademark filing information (e.g., incorrect fee information);
- Falsely claim that there are pending payments before the USPTO;
- Request fees for renewing your registered trademark, among others.
Types of Trademark-Related Solicitation & What They Offer
Trademark solicitations will offer a type of service or inform a trademark owner or applicant of a pending deadline. Typically with these solicitations, there will be a fee associated with whatever service is being offered. As these private companies often go through USPTO databases to obtain their information, it is likely that when the trademark owner or applicant receives the communication, it will contain accurate information. However, the fees may not be required or are inflated. In other cases, the information is not accurate at all, and the communication is a complete scam.
Trademark owners and applicants need to be aware that they are not required to utilize these services even if they are from a real company.
Many of the solicitations are for legal services which must be performed or supervised by a licensed United States attorney, but the private companies soliciting these services are not law firms. Legal services offered include trademark renewal. The solicitation for trademark renewal will be in an official-looking envelope and will state that the trademark holder must pay a certain sum of money to renew their trademark. Typically, these fees are separate from the actual fees charged by the USPTO. These trademark renewal solicitations are sent early in an attempt to get the trademark owner to pay before they receive the actual, real notice of the trademark renewal from the firm that handled it previously.
Other solicitations include offers to record trademarks in a private registry, as well as:
- Domain Name Purchasing: Another solicitation that is sent out to trademark owners and applicants states that they need to pay a fee to stop companies in other countries from using their domain name or registering their trademark. In reality, this is a scam, and no such threat is imminent.
- Trademark Monitoring Via Electronic Means: One company goes so far as to state that paying them a certain amount of money will register a trademark for electronic monitoring. In truth, the USPTO does not offer this electronic monitoring service.
How The USPTO Is Combating These Solicitations
The good news is that the USPTO is taking steps to combat these solicitations. One of the main ways they do this is by posting their fee schedule online. When a trademark applicant or owner receives a solicitation, this makes it easy for them to check to see if the fees they are being quoted are accurate. Also, the USPTO has a list of companies they have sanctioned and entities that they consider potentially misleading.
It is also recommended that all trademark owners and applicants regularly check the status of their trademark filings and set their my USPTO account to notify them when there are changes to their account status.
Speak With An IP Lawyer At ESQgo
An IP lawyer at ESQgo is here for you if you’ve received a scam communication. DO NOT reply to the numbers or emails mentioned in a scam communication. Instead, contact our firm by calling us at 888-600-1925, emailing us at email@example.com, or via our contact page. Our attorneys can let you know your trademark application/registration status.