If you are listed as the owner or contact on a trademark application or registration, chances are you’ve received unsolicited correspondence about the trademark. These unsolicited emails or letters may offer to help with an upcoming filing deadline or ask for money to register or maintain your trademark. Many of these communications are trademark scams.
The businesses that send these notices often access public databases to obtain information about your trademark applications and registrations. These databases contain the specific information they need – owner/contact name, physical address, email address (sometimes), and other public information that is part of the official process for registering and maintaining your trademark in the United States. Using this publicly available information, these businesses send what looks like an official email or letter with details about your trademark and often invoice a “registration” fee.
The businesses sending these trademark scam solicitations often use names that sound “official” or resemble an official organization’s name such as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the World Intellectual Property Organization. These notices may include official-sounding words and official-looking serial numbers, registration numbers, or U.S. Code section numbers. And they usually suggest a sense of urgency by giving you a short time to respond to the scammer. Although these communications appear to be official or government-issued and urgent, nearly all are private company trademark scams.
To get a better feel for what we’re talking about, take a look at the solicitation we received at On Point Business Administration. Looks somewhat official, right?
The USPTO warns against these solicitations and wants to know if you’ve paid money to a company that might be part of a trademark scam. The USPTO has even posted a list of companies to watch out for.
It is important to stay on top of your trademark filing deadlines and other important matters involving your trademark, so don’t dismiss all unexpected correspondence you receive. Pay attention to official-looking correspondence but scrutinize it so you don’t fall victim to a trademark scam.