Jun
03

A Practical Tip for Trademark Registrants & Applicants – Don’t Fall for Trademark Scammer Scare Tactics!

It seems that clients for whom our law firm has obtained registered trademarks are receiving more letters from scammers than in the past. One client reported receiving five different scammer letters in one week!  These letters are purposely intended to suggest that: 1) the letter was sent from the United States Patent & Trademark Office; or 2) the scammer is a recognized affiliate of the USPTO authorized to send such correspondence.  The USPTO’s website has a notice warning the public about these scam tactics.  Also, the USPTO sends out a notice with each Registered Trademark Certificate warning the trademark owner about “scamming” activities by third parties.

For our trademark clients, we provide a detailed letter specifying the future dates by which the registered mark/patent owner must take “action” to maintain the active status of the mark/patent. One thing is for sure:  the inadvertent loss of registered trademark rights resulting from the failure to properly maintain a registered trademark can have serious, costly consequences.  Don’t let that happen to you by failing to understand your date-specific obligations as a registered trademark owner. See the website’s blog on Trademark and Patent Maintenance Fees.

Many of the commentator’s clients have forwarded copies of scammer letters which have actually specified wrong trademark registration date information! The sender also requested hefty fees without any detail as to what the suggested fees cover or the information that the third party will require from the registered trademark owner or applicant to comply with the USPTO’s maintenance requirements. What these scammer letters all have in common is the following: a request to send money!

By way of example, one long-time client recently received a letter from a scammer by the name of PTMI (Patent & Trademark Institute) purporting to be a “register of trademarks.” No physical address was provided.  For $765.00, PTMI would apparently list the client’s registered mark in a data base under the scammer’s control for one year.   This type of service is a joke since all countries through a bona fide governmental intellectual property agency such as our own USPTO list all existing registered marks, abandoned marks, and cancelled marks.  Additionally, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) also maintains records of registered marks throughout the world.  There is absolutely no need to pay a third party to list one’s registered mark.  Such a data base would also be useless for trademark search purposes since it’s highly likely the data base would be incomplete or provide incorrect information.   This commentator would not even rely on any information provided in “sketchy” data bases when conducting a trademark or “knockout” search and neither would other trademark attorneys.

Another client received a notice from Glo Trade, S.R.O. requesting over $2800 to monitor the client’s soon-to-be registered trademark for one year. The notice indicated a registration date for the client’s mark even though the application is at the publication stage.  The incorrect notice doesn’t provide much confidence that Glo Trade, S.R.O. would do a decent job of tracking conflicting marks if it can’t even get the client’s registration date right, does it?  The commentator notes that there are legitimate companies for tracking potentially infringing applied-for trademarks; these legitimate companies do not send out solicitation letters.

Registered trademark owners who do not already have a trademark attorney are welcome to contact contact us at (305) 279-4740 about any “scam” letters they receive to verify for their own peace of mind that the letter is indeed from a “scamming” third party.   We will provide the complimentary service of checking the caller’s trademark registration date/patent issuance date based on USPTO records to determine the next actual date by which the trademark/patent owner must take action to maintain the active status of the trademark/patent.

If the caller requests us to do so, we will handle the steps required for maintaining a trademark(s)/patent(s) at an attractive legal fee that will be substantially less than what the scammer hopes to obtain for questionable services. The owner of a trademark registration can also always file the required documentation directly with the USPTO to maintain a registered trademark.  The owner just needs to make sure that all representations to the USPTO are accurate and comport with the USPTO’s requirements.

We hope you find this blog useful.   However, it is not legal advice and is provided for informational purposes only!

 

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