Increase in Fraudulent Trademark Communications

by | Jun 28, 2024 | Featured, Trademark

What Are Fraudulent Trademark Communications?

With the increase in prices of goods, there has also been an increase in fraud. This includes fraudulent trademark communications. These scammers reach out to trademark applicants and owners and pose as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The motive behind these fraudulent communications is often financial. Unsuspecting trademark recipients afraid to lose their protections may end up falling prey to these scams, paying unnecessary fees, or providing personal information.

Common USPTO Scams

The USPTO provides information about common scams to help people avoid them, but trademark owners should remember that scammers are constantly adapting their tactics. Often, someone claiming to be from the USPTO will contact a trademark applicant or owner and purport there is an issue with their registration or application. It is also common for scammers to try to convince the individual that false immediate action is necessary to avoid some damaging consequence.

According to the USPTO, some of the most common types of fraudulent activity are as follows:

  • Emails from scammers claiming to be examiners
  • Fake solicitations for payment of fines
  • Posing as a licensed attorney
  • Spoofing USPTO phone numbers to access trademark holder’s information
  • Forged request to change email address

Because much of a trademark recipient’s information is publicly available, these scams can be incredibly convincing. They usually have access to trademark recipients’ names and addresses. They also provide USPTO addresses, convincingly similar names, and contact information. All of which can easily fool a concerned trademark owner.

A common scam states additional fees are due to publish marks or to keep applications valid from fake World Trademark Associations or WTPs.

It is important to note that only licensed attorneys can represent trademark owners or attend related proceedings. Furthermore, the USPTO does not recommend attorneys. If you receive a message from someone claiming to be a business allowed to practice in front of the USPTO, it is likely a scam. In addition, many online filing services are not attorneys. To ensure you are using a reputable company, verify that an attorney will be filing the application. After filing, review the correspondence information in the application. If your company is listed as the correspondent, then a licensed attorney is not involved. The USPTO has invalidated all marks filed by companies attempting to do attorney work while not being a licensed attorney. The USPTO has found many of these companies scam customers by overcharging for fees and creating fraudulent documents.

Trademark registrants and applicants have been seeing an increase in deceptive calls and messages requiring urgent action or an immediate response. These communications claim that failing to take the listed action, usually involving paying a fee, could result in the recipient losing their trademark rights.

How to Avoid Being Scammed

The USPTO promises trademark holders and applicants that no one from its office will ever ask for personal information. They also never ask for payment details via phone or email. If you receive a notice that immediate payment is required or you risk losing your trademark rights, you should contact the USPTO through their .gov website to verify this information.

In addition, hiring a licensed attorney can help, as they can quickly check emails and other correspondence you have received to determine if you received a scam and keep your mind at peace by ensuring only true USPTO fees required are paid. Moreover, websites that file trademarks but file without licensed attorneys leave you at risk that the USPTO may invalidate your mark in the future.

The trademark attorneys at EmergeCounsel can provide representation to clients facing actual trademark issues or help you identify if a message you’ve received is legitimate. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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