Trademark applicants and registrants take notice: There are increasing numbers of domestic and international outfits that issue trademark compliance and renewal notices that look like legitimate invoices or governmental requests. In actuality, these notices are sent by private individuals or entities trying to make a quick buck. Some of these notices are solicitations from companies offering to file renewals with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) for an exorbitant fee. Using deceptively official-sounding names such as “United States Trademark Registration Office”, “Trademark and Patent Office” and “Patent & Trademark Agency”, these companies charge excessive fees for routine or unnecessary services or worse, take your money and disappear. Others, such as IP Data in the Czech Republic, seek to charge a “filing fee” of over $2,400 to publish your trademark in their own private Internet database – an expensive exercise that is not an application for trademark registration and confers no trademark rights.
This problem has become so widespread and severe that the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) published a list of known international trademark registration scams. The USPTO keeps a similar scammer database, identifying the following organizations that sent non-USPTO solicitations, prompting consumer complaints to the USPTO:
- TM-DB Register of Protected Trademarks
- Trademark and Patent Office
- Trademark Compliance Center (See an example of a scam solicitation sent by TCC)
- Trademark Registration and Monitoring Office
- United States Trademark Registration Office
- Patent & Trademark Agency
- United States Trademark Maintenance Service
- U.S. Trademark Compliance Service
- TM Collection
- TM Edition
- Patent Trademark Register
- Register of International Patents and Trademarks
- Trademark Renewal Service
- Trademark Safeguard – Trademark Monitoring Service
- Intellectual Property Agency Ltd.
- IOPR – Intellectual Property Register
- GBO, Inc.
- Intellectual Property Services USA Incorporated
- USTM Information Services
- Brand Registration Office
In October 2014, a New York firm successfully won a lawsuit against “Patent & Trademark Agency LLC” for unfair competition and deceptive marketing practices, putting the company out of business. A Final Consent Judgment was entered against Patent & Trademark Agency LLC, by which it agreed to permanently discontinue marketing and selling trademark registration or renewal services in the United States.
If you receive any unexpected email or correspondence regarding a trademark registration, you should immediately contact the USPTO or your counsel to verify the veracity of the sender and the correspondence. Conkle, Kremer & Engel assists individuals and companies in all aspects of intellectual property protection, including the filing and maintenance of trademark registrations – and we know how to discriminate legitimate vendors from scammers.