Trademark scams, as detailed in our earlier post here, are back with a vengeance. Because of the nature of these scams and the potential cost of falling for them, we felt it was time to address this topic again.
How Trademark Scams Work
Federal trademark applications and trademark registrations are public records. The United States Patent and Trademark Office maintains a searchable database of currently existing and expired trademarks. Among other information in the database is the name and address of the owner of a trademark application or registration, USPTO Serial and Registration Numbers, registration dates and even visual images of trademarks.
Scammers can obtain this information directly off the USPTO website and enter it into documents that look “official” and emanate from such “official” entities as World Trademark Register, United States Trademark Compliance Office, Patent & Trademark Bureau, United States Trademark Registration Office, and WTP Trademark Service.
Correspondence from these entities usually look like legitimate invoices and carry an ominous tone warning that a trademark registration is in danger of cancellation or expiration but that can be avoided by payment of a fee to the entity. If someone bites and pays the fee, the entity either never performs any service or provides a completely meaningless service such as “registering” a mark in some private “registry.”
How to Avoid Trademark Scams
There are a few easy ways to avoid falling for trademark scams. First, when you receive something related to your trademark, look carefully at where the correspondence comes from. The official agency that has control over trademarks is the United States Patent and Trademark Office. There is no United States Trademark Compliance Office, Patent & Trademark Bureau or World Trademark Register, etc. So, if a piece of correspondence does not come from the USPTO, it is well likely junk.
A second way is to rely on your attorney. When clients retain Henderson Franklin to file trademark applications or to monitor existing trademark registrations, we become Counsel of Record and the designee for all official correspondence from USPTO regarding that particular application or registration. In this scenario, everything official will route through Henderson Franklin and we will forward such items to you. Therefore, if you are a client and receive anything related to your trademarks from any other entity there is a high likelihood that such correspondence is junk or a scam. Other firms may do it differently, but if you used counsel to file your trademark application or manage your registrations, utilize that resource.
One final way to avoid the scams is to ask us. Whether you are an existing client or not, if you receive an item related to a trademark application or registration and are unsure of its legitimacy, you can forward the item to us to review and we will provide our opinion of whether it is legitimate or not. Henderson Franklin does not charge for this service because we feel no one should fall victim to these trademark scams. I may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 239-344-1153.