How to avoid being taken by a trademark scam
Trademark scams are still prevalent. The USPTO has put up a warning page, but done little else recently to try to stop the scammers from taking advantage of trademark applicants and registrants. The FTC, to my knowledge, has done nothing.
If you think you might have received a trademark scam, here are some tips:
- Do not pay it.
- Search the internet for information about the material you received. Use particular language or addresses in quotations to make the search more direct.
- Contact an attorney if you have any questions.
- Contact the USPTO if you do not have an attorney. The USPTO "Trademark Assistance Center" can be reached at 800-786-9199 or via email at TrademarkAssistanceCenter@uspto.gov.
- Read the fine print. I know, the fine print is often quite difficult to read (intentionally) but it usually makes it clear that this letter is not from the government and it describes what the costs or invoice are alleged to cover.
- Be wary of requests to wire money to foreign banks.
- Try contacting the company that sent the letter via email or phone or online. Do they respond?
- Don't pay for trademark directory listings. No one uses them!
- Check the list of Non-USPTO Solicitations That May Resemble Official USPTO Communications provided by the USPTO.
- Check the list of unofficial solicitations compiled by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
- Remember that if the correspondence did not come from the USPTO (Alexandria, VA and uspto.gov) then it is not official or from the government.
- File a complaint with the FTC.