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Posts Tagged ‘tmscams’

Last week, I received a new trademark solicitation regarding a trademark registration renewal. The company calls itself “Patent & Trademark Office” with an address in New York, NY. See the image of their mailing that I scanned below.

The document could easily be mistaken as coming from the government – the “Patent & Trademark Office” name, the look and feel of the document, and the official looking bar code.

Their “fee” of $975 is not cheap. And it is not clear what services they provide? Is this a Section 8 renewal, or 8 and 15? Do they provided legal advice about which renewal is appropriate, and whether the mark is in use or in use for all the goods and services in the registration? Are they attorneys and members of the bar?

If this was a legitimate service at a reasonable value, why would they mask who they are, and why would they choose the clearly deceptive name of “Patent & Trademark Office”?

Their website appears to be patenttrademarkoffice.us, but the domain was not working when I checked it this week.

Beware of such scams. Read the fine print. Contact your attorney. Report scams to the FTC and USPTO.

For more information, see:

BRNF14744_014757_001 BRNF14744_014758_001

Despite the best efforts of many, scammers continue to take advantage of trademark owners. When applicants file to register trademarks with the USPTO their application data becomes part of a public record. A variety of scammer then take that public information and prey upon them with questionable and overpriced services.

The USPTO warns applicants on their website and when they mail copies of USPTO trademark registrations.

The law firm of Leason Ellis has twice sued scam operators to put them out of business.

And I have written for years about this issue. Yet the problem persists.

Join me to call upon the USPTO to do more. This petition has 74 signatures. Perhaps if it receives hundred of signatures the USPTO or TPAC will take notice. Click on the link below to visit the ipetitions site and sign the petition. The full text of the petition is below.

Request USPTO Investigation and Action Regarding Trademark Scams

File:Icon scam11.gif

 

petitions

 

Dear Commissioner Cohn and Chairman Tepper, We write to request that the USPTO, with assistance from the Trademark Public Advisory Committee (“TPAC”), renew and strengthen efforts to combat the ongoing epidemic of trademark related scams targeting trademark applicants and registrants. As you are no doubt aware, several entities with names like United States Trademark Registration Office; World Intellectual Property Database; GBO INC., Trademark and Patent Dep.; and USA TradeMark Ent., INC. use the contact information available in the USPTO’s database to mail and email solicitations to trademark applicants, including those represented by counsel. The solicitations often include offers for listing marks in registries that are of no value to the trademark owner, if they exist at all. The solicitors use a combination of names, language, and letterhead that clearly attempt to mimic official government correspondence. These solicitations lack any true value, confuse those who receive them, collect money in return for a service of little or no benefit, and damage the integrity of the trademark registration system. Others have had some success taking steps to limit these practices. For example, in 2009 the Attorney General of Florida successfully brought a case against Federal Institute for Patent and Trademark Registry for violation of the state’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. More recently, the law firm of Leason Ellis has filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against U.S. Trademark Enterprises alleging federal false advertising and state unfair competition torts (see http://bit.ly/ymjXya). However, we believe that more must be done to protect users of the trademark system from these deceptive practices. Therefore, we urge the USPTO to: a) coordinate with the Commissioner for Trademarks, the Federal Trade Commission, state agencies, law enforcement, and others with jurisdiction over the subject matter to investigate issues of false advertising, impersonating a government agency, and/or charging money for services of no value; b) create additional warnings and educational content for trademark applicants and registrants regarding these issues; and c) take any other actions possible to limit the damage caused by these scams. Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter. Sincerely, Erik M. Pelton (author)

Kudos to our colleagues from Leason Ellis. As reported in May of 2013, they sued a trademark scam outfit, Patent & Trademark Agency, LLC for sending misleading trademark solicitations. And now, the case has been settled and and the scammers will cease operations, according to a report from Law360.  According to the report:

The agreement bans Organesjans and his company from involvement in offering trademark registration or renewal services, or marketing such services. It likewise bans them from offering services assisting people and businesses in other intellectual property-related activities.

Trademark applicants and registrants should be extremely skeptical of any communications that are not from their counsel or from the USPTO directly. Many others mine the public data and send emails and/or mailings with dubious offerings. Some of them appear to intentionally mimic government correspondence.

Well done, Leason Ellis. Thank you for protecting trademark owners everywhere.

For more information about other trademark scam solicitations, see my post:
USPTO warns about 13 trademark scam operations

 

Last month, the FTC announced a warning, and tips, regarding government imposter scams.  A related FTC webpage features some good information for identifying such scams, and for how to report them.

Unfortunately, the FTC posts don’t reference scams targeting trademark owners based on the USPTO’s public records. These scams, for international registries and other worthless services, request large sums of money be wired to the offering party. And the solicitation is often made to mimic government correspondence.

While the USPTO did go after one such scam operator in the last few years, it is a shame that the USPTO and the FTC have not done more.

If you are interested in the topic, please contact the USPTO and/or the FTC.  You can sign my petition (Request USPTO Investigation and Action Regarding Trademark Scams) here.

image from ftc.gov

 

To my knowledge, the USPTO and FTC have not yet taken any action against scammers in the US preying on trademark applicants and registrants. See for example:

However,  the UK IPO is not sitting idly. They have taken against against at least two of these outfits to protect consumers and punish the entities for “passing off.” According to a report on gov.uk from August 18, 2014,

“Two of the most blatant offenders – ‘Patent and Trademark Office’ and ‘Patent and Trade Mark Organisation’ – and the persons behind these organisations, Mr Aleksandrs Radcuks and Mr Igors Villers, have admitted and settled our claims and agreed to be bound by an Order of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court prohibiting them from further acts of passing off.”

Furthermore, the report indicates that the parties were required to make a substantial payment to cover some of IPO’s legal costs.

I sure hope the USPTO takes note of these actions and successes and considers taking steps to stop these scams and to protect US consumers.

For more reporting on this story, see: