Watch Out for Trademark Scams
If you received something in the mail asking you to pay for a trademark or brand related service, stop, and read this before doing anything.
If you apply for a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office you will need to provide a mailing address. That address is publicly accessible along with addresses for every other applicant. As you might have guessed, spammers and scammers create mailing lists using addresses harvested from the USPTO. But how do you know if a bit of mail that you received is a scam? Here are a few things to look for:
- It’s Not from The US Patent and Trademark Office
Most scammers use a semi-official sounding name like “Trademark Agency” or “National Trademark Office” or something else that is close, but not quite right. While most official correspondence about your trademark application is sent by email, any actual mail from the USPTO will come from “United States Patent and Trademark Office” in Alexandria, Virginia. Not, New York, Denver, or even Washington, DC. Any emails should be from an address ending in uspto.gov. Everything else is suspect.
- It’s Asking for Money or Invoicing for Services
Maybe there are unusual cases, but the USPTO rarely sends an invoice after filing. Filing fees are always due at the time you file and are usually submitted electronically. It is still possible to file with paper, but the USPTO charges significantly more to try to discourage that, so it is very rare that a filing would be completed without the fees being paid electronically. Any trademark service asking for money or claiming that you owe money is probably a scam.
- When In Doubt Check Your Application Status Online
Many of these scams also deliberately misstate the due date for some future filing deadline, making it seem like action is required right now and creating a false sense of urgency. But it doesn’t take long to check public records online. The status for any US trademark application or registration (including all the correspondence to or from the USPTO) can be found online at tess2.uspto.gov or at tsdr.uspto.gov. You can search by owner name, serial number, or the name of the trademark. When you find your trademark, you can see if any response is due.
The USPTO is trying to fight back against these scams¹ and the Federal Trade Commission will accept consumer complaints². But unfortunately, if you have already paid money to one of these companies, it is unlikely that you will get your money back.
If you have any questions about trademarks, please contact one of the attorneys at Pruvent PLLC.