As soon as a trademark application is filed, applicants tend to be spammed with trademark solicitations that look rather “official.” They come by both mail and email from companies who scrape the USPTO database for new trademark application filings. These offers come from both the US and foreign businesses trying to sell you (even trick you into buying) some product or monitoring service. Sometimes they want you to pay them for something your trademark attorney already did for you. Over the years, I’ve also seen them offering to publish your mark in various trademark indexes and registers (which no one will ever read or use), register domain names containing your mark or file Chinese trademarks for you.
These solicitations are deceiving because they use company names that sound “official” and are permutations of the official government agency, the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
I have a few tips to help identify if a solicitation might be a scam solicitation:
- Is the email from @USPTO.gov, the official government website where all official e-mails are sent and received? If not, it isn’t “official.”
- Is the mailing address from Alexandria, Virginia where the USPTO is located? All official correspondence comes from the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, VA.
- Does it have warnings about your trademark expiring? The USPTO doesn’t use such terminology.
- Is there a barcode? I’d be suspicious it was automated mail advertising.
- Is there an invoice? USPTO notices do not look like bills, even when they contain filing fee amounts.
- Is there an official seal of the registry where your mark was filed? The USPTO’s seal is on all official communications.
If you have a question, send our team a picture of what you received to [email protected]. We’ll tell you what it really is before you pay any money for something you may not need. You can also check the USPTO, EUIPO and WIPO websites (links below) to see if the company is listed as a scam or a misleading solicitor. If you received one, send it to [email protected] so they can add it to the list!
Tracy Jong is a patent and trademark attorney at Tracy Jong Law Firm. Tracy focuses her practice on client counseling related to patent and trademark prosecution for a range of clients including small startup companies, restaurants and bars, craft beverage companies, cannabusiness, and product manufacturers. She may be contacted at [email protected].