I would like to warn my readers of several ongoing scams targeting patent, trademark, and copyright applicants and registrants. Although each scam varies slightly, they all generally involve notices intended to look like they are coming from an official government office such as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The notices, sent by unscrupulous entities and organizations, are designed to solicit fees from applicants. In fact, they may often be called “invoices.”
To give the appearance of legitimacy, they usually contain publically available information about the application or registration and use names and logos that resemble official entities like the USPTO or, the case of an international application, the World Intellectual Property Organization.
In one recent case, a client received a notice from an entity calling itself the “United States Trademark Registration Office.” The “invoice” requested payment in the amount of $375 for registration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and trademark monitoring services.
Despite what this mailing may lead one to believe, trademark monitoring and customs registration are not part of the official trademark application process. Although they are legitimate services, this notice clearly employed deceptive advertising to sell its services.
The bottom line—the United States Patent and Trademark Office is the only government agency that will contact you about your U.S. patent or trademark registration or application. If you receive an official looking document in the mail from someone else, it could be a scam.
How Can I Help?
While some of the correspondence you receive regarding your intellectual property may be legitimate, I encourage my readers to consult with me before enrolling in these services or sending any money.