The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) is finally taking notice of the plethora of private companies (not affiliated with the USPTO) who solicit trademark applicants, with deceptive and misleading communications that look official.
BEWARE! These companies gather trademark applicant information from the USPTO database (which is public record), and solicit those applicants for money. The offer a service, (usually one you’ve already paid for if you have a lawyer) in exchange for a fee, e.g., legal services, trademark monitoring services, US Customs and Border Protection recordation services, to name a few.
These companies will use names that look like the USPTO name, and some are so unscrupulous that they even make their communication look like an official government document. And, if you don’t know any better, it is easy to be defrauded. Unfortunately we live in an era when we must always be on the alert, because there are many enterprising souls just waiting to take advantage of you.
What can you do?
- Do NOT pay them anything;
- If you have a lawyer, contact them immediately;
- File an online consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC);
- Contact the USPTO by email (TMFeedback@uspto.gov) and include:
- A copy of the misleading and deceptive communication with the envelope,
- Let the USPTO know if you thought the communication was an official US government document (or if you had to ask an attorney to clarify it for you),
- Indicate to the USPTO if you paid a fee in response to the misleading communication and for what purpose.
Protect Yourself, Protect Your Assets, Protect Your Family!
Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward looking out for you.