This past week, my law firm received documents from the “Patent & Trademark Bureau,” located in Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania, stating that our law firm’s trademarks were scheduled for renewal. The document listed the wrong renewal date and instructed that the renewal fee would be $1250. You can view the document here.
As a trademark attorney, I immediately knew that the document was a fraudulent solicitation from a third party. The USPTO website lists the Patent & Trademark Bureau as an example of a company that sends out misleading offers and notices. You can find the list posted by the USPTO.
Unfortunately, many owners of trademark registrations and pending applications may not recognize solicitations from companies like the “Patent & Trademark Bureau” as a scam.
There are many businesses that send misleading solicitations through the US Postal Service and email to owners of trademark applications and registrations. They are attempting to get the owners to pay fees that are not owed and for services that are not needed. The fees are usually highly inflated.
Signs That This Document Was a Scam
- The document was not directed to me as the attorney of record with the USPTO. The USPTO only communicates directly with the person designated in the trademark database – as the attorney of record or the owner of the trademark.
- The renewal date for the trademark was incorrect by more than a year.
- The renewal fee was stated as $1250 for one class with each additional class at $650. These are highly inflated prices.
The document did have a statement buried under “Important Information”:
“Patent & Trademark Bureau is a private business that is not endorsed by the U.S. government.”
Pay Attention and Be Warned
If you have a pending trademark application or you own trademark registrations through the USPTO, be careful to read any correspondence you may receive pertaining to the application or registration. Trademark applications and registrations are public records that anyone may review. There are numerous companies that try to trick trademark owners and applicants into paying fraudulent fees for unnecessary services.
The services offered are often duplicate services provided by the USPTO, or they offer to manage the trademark under false pretenses. Some examples of fraudulent entities that send out these solicitations are:
- Patent & Trademark Renewal Services
- Patent and Trademark Office
- Patent and Trademark Resource Center
- WTMR World Trademark Register
- WTP Trademark Publication
- WT Worldwide Trademarks, Ltd.
Look out for any correspondence from companies with these names. For a more extensive list, go to the USPTO website.
Tips for Trademark Owners
- Before paying any trademark related fees, verify that the document or invoice is from an authorized agency.
- Make sure the document is from the USPTO – no other government entity will contact you regarding your trademarks.
- If you have trademark counsel, forward the document to them for review and advice.
- Go to the USPTO website and read the page entitled CAUTION: Scam Alert.
Be careful in managing your trademarks. Don’t throw away money on false solicitations and scams.