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Posts Tagged ‘scams’

I generally report quite a lot of discouraging news on this blog about trademark scams – namely that they are rampant, that they seem to be increasing in number and scope, and that it generally appears that the government is doing little to counter them. However, yesterday brought some good news as the Federal government charged two persons with a mass mailing scam targeting trademark holders. These appear to be additional charges and details from the indictment brought in October 2015, as well as the involvement of a second person.

The two scams operated by these individuals were the Trademark Compliance Center (TCC) and the Trademark Compliance Office (TCO). In the past, I had written about each of these scams:

Warning: Trademark Compliance Center has nothing to do with the USPTO (6/26/2014)

Warning: U.S. Trademark Compliance Office has nothing to do with the USPTO (10/12/2015)

Some additional details from the Dept. of Justice press release:

Artashes Darbinyan, 36, and Orbel Hakobyan, 41, were charged in a superseding indictment that was unsealed today in the Central District of California with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.  Darbinyan was also charged with four counts of mail fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft, two counts of concealment money laundering and one count of bank fraud for a separate scheme.  Hakobyan was also charged with one count of bank fraud.

According to the superseding indictment, Darbinyan operated and controlled Trademark Compliance Center (TCC) and Trademark Compliance Office (TCO), which purported to offer trademark registration and monitoring services.  The superseding indictment alleges that, through TCC and TCO, Darbinyan sent mass solicitations offering, for a fee, trademark registration and monitoring services to holders of trademarks recently registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, services which Darbinyan did not intend to, and did not, provide.  To accomplish this scheme, Darbinyan used the names of other persons to open accounts for TCC and TCO at “virtual office centers” (i.e., businesses that offered call answering and mail forwarding services) in the Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles areas, and directed employees of the Washington, D.C.-area virtual office centers to forward mail addressed to TCC and TCO – envelopes containing payments from trademark holders – to the virtual office centers in the Los Angeles area, the superseding indictment alleges.

While this is great news for trademark holders, and perhaps it will give pause to some of the others operating scams, I have some questions: How was this case initiated? Has the DoJ investigated other scam outfits? How long was the investigation?

Kudos to the USPTO for recent’y updating the webpage on Non-USPTO Solicitations That May Resemble Official USPTO Communications.

Image result for uspto logo

The page contains detailed explanations/warnings of the types of solicitations trademark applicants and registrants may receive, as well as with links to examples of specific solicitations. The page also features an excellent video:

This solicitation I received last week is clearly intended to look and feel like official government notice. First clue: the name “Trademark Office Ltd.”  Domain name: trademarkoffice.us.

The notice states my trademark registration for APPTORNEY® is about to expire. That is not really true. The renewal is due between Jan. 4, 2016 and Jan. 4, 2017. And there is even a six month grace period after that. So my registration will only expire if I do not file a renewal before July 4, 2017.  Yet the mailing says it is about to expire.

The fee quoted is quite high: $855. And the offer does not explain anything about the requirements to renew, or whether a Section 15 declaration would be useful. It appears then that they are charging $755, plus $100 USPTO filing fee, for filing a Section 8. That is more than I charge, for certain, and I provide legal advice. Do they provide legal advice? The offer is not clear.

The fine print on the back is practically impossible to read, as it is in light grey lettering (I scanned it in color, below).

BRNF14744_015526_001

BRNF14744_015527_001

Note that the USPTO is also warning about Trademrk Office Ltd. and related solicitations regarding renewal deadlines here.

Beware of trademark scam from EPTR

Posted by ipelton on: December 7th, 2015

A client alerted me last week to a scam offer received to the “EPTR TRADEMARK REGISTER.” See image below. I have never hear of this register. Of course! Because all of these private registers are worthless. No one uses them (assuming they can even be used.) They are scams.

The invoice or offer from EPTR looks like government official communication. They ask for outrageous amounts of money. This invoice indicates that the request for $1460.00 is for a “Filing Fee” which also sounds official since the USPTO has filing fees. I visited their website and I’m not even convinced that the database has anything in it (or their search function does not work).

It appears this particular EPTR scam has been around, at least in Europe, but it may be new in the US.

It continues to astound me that the USPTO, DOJ, FTC, and others refuse to investigate and stop these blatant scams targeting trademark owners.

EPTR - European Patent and Trademark Register

EPTR FullSizeRender_001

 

Beware of trademark scam from TM-DB

Posted by ipelton on: October 28th, 2015

The list of scams soliciting business from trademark holders in the US continues to grow. The latest one that I received (as a trademark owner) was from “TM-DB”. It is for a directory listing that is worthless. And the cost is $980 for 2 years. A picture of the offer that I received is below. I wonder how many people have been duped?

If you have been taken by this scam, I suggest that you file a complaint with the FTC, write a letter to the USPTO Commissioner, and contact law enforcement.

TM-DB SOLICITATION_001

For more information about dealing with these scams, see: