Upon filing a trademark application, with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) or with another foreign government trademark agency, you will undoubtedly receive one or more official-looking notice in the mail (sometimes via email) from several companies offering services that have absolutely no legal or other significance to your registration. Many of these companies use terms that resemble an official agency name including one or more of the terms “United States,” “U.S.,” “Trademark,” “Patent,” “Registration,” “Office,” or “Agency.” And these solicitations are formatted to look like official government documents by listing data about your trademark registration application and even an image of your trademark (all of which is publicly available information).
If read carefully, the solicitations provide useless services such as listing the application on an internet database or sending a reminder that an issued registration is up for renewal sometime in the future. And, unfortunately, these worthless services have significant costs often exceeding the actual fees necessary to register a trademark. Some trademark owners pay these invoices believing they are legitimate official invoices because they do not read the solicitations carefully. Some of the solicitations are so fraudulent that they don’t even disclose what services they are providing.
Examples of company’s regularly sending fraudulent solicitations include:
- Brand Registration Office (Trademark Selection Edition) (Washington, DC)
- GBO, Inc., Trademark and Patent Dep. (Miami, FL)
- Intellectual Property Services USA Incorporated (Alexandria, VA)
- Intellectual Property Agency Ltd. (U.K.)
- IOPR – Intellectual Office Property Register (Beaverton, OR)
- IPTI – International Patent & Trademark Index (Czech Republic)
- IPTO International Patent & Trademark Organization (Czech Republic)
- Patent & Trademark Resource Center (Seattle & Woodinville, WA)
- Patent and Trademark Organization (New York, NY)
- Patent Trademark Register (Origin Unknown)
- Patent & Trademark Bureau (Philadelphia, PA)
- Patent & Trademark Office (New York, NY)
- Patent & Trademark Agency (New York, NY)
- P.T.M.A. Patent and Trademark Association (New York, NY)
- Registration of International Trademark WDTP (Czech Republic)
- Register of International Patents and Trademarks (Slovak Republic)
- RPT Servis – Registration of the International Trademark (Czech Republic)
- TM Collection (Hungary)
- TM-DB Register of Protected Trademarks (Washington, DC or Wilmington, DE or Pearland, TX)
- TM Edition (Hungary)
- TPP – Trademark & Patent Publications (Poland)
- Trademark and Patent Office (Los Angeles, CA)
- Trademark Office Ltd. (New York, NY)
- Trademark Compliance Office (Arlington, VA)
- Trademark Registration and Monitoring Office (Los Angeles, CA)
- Trademark Renewal Service (New York, NY)
- Trademark Renewal Service (Washington, DC)
- Trademark Safeguard – Trademark Monitoring Service (New York, NY)
- United States Trademark Registration Office (Los Angeles, CA)
- United States Trademark Maintenance Service (Arizona)
- U.S. Trademark Compliance Office (Wilmington, DE)
- U.S. Trademark Compliance Service (Phoenix, AZ)
- USTM Information Services (Idaho Falls, ID)
- WIPT World Patents Trademarks (Slovak Republic)
- WPAT World Patents Trademarks (Slovak Republic)
These companies send hundreds if not thousands of solicitations annually. While there is a small cost of mailing the solicitations, it only takes a few unaware victims to make up that cost. And, because these companies are providing a service (a legally valueless service) in exchange for the fees they con victims into paying, they are technically not breaking the law. Therefore, once you pay them you have no recourse.
Any official postal correspondence regarding your trademark registration or application in the United States will be from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office” with an address in Alexandria, Virginia. Any emails related to your trademark registration or application will be from the domain “@uspto.gov.” For foreign registrations and applications, official correspondence will also be from official government agencies. Warnings regarding fraudulent solicitations in foreign countries may be found at www.wipo.int/pct/en/warning/pct_warning.html. Also note, if an intellectual property attorney or firm files your trademark registration application on your behalf, any official correspondence regarding that application will be sent to that attorney or firm.
If you ever have a question about your trademark registration or application, you should contact your intellectual property attorney. Or you can always contact the USPTO or foreign agency directly and ask about the status of your registration or application.
Tye Biasco is a partner at Patterson Thuente IP. Patterson Thuente IP is a full-service intellectual property law firm, dedicated to helping technology-based companies protect, and profit from, their ideas. Learn more about the firm at www.ptslaw.com or contact Tye at 612.349-3010 or firstname.lastname@example.org.