Trademark Filer Beware

When you apply for a trademark, it opens you up to start receiving trademark solicitations and scams. How do you know which correspondence is legitimate? Most are not.

If you have filed a trademark application with The United States Patent and Trademark Office yourself, then you are listed on the trademark application and you are now exposed to receive solicitations from services which promise additional protection. These solicitations are illusory, and, in many cases, illegal. The U.S. Trademark Office is trying hard to warn trademark owners of these unscrupulous entreaties.

These trademark scam letters can come in a number of different forms and none of them is more legitimate than the rest.

They can come from a few different companies. They are all sending these letters that look very official and people are paying for services that either they don’t get or they don’t necessarily need. The most common is a trademark registration letter that is sent shortly after you file an application. It invites you to register your name in an “internet database” or a printed “trademark registry.” The letters are unclear as to what the internet database is (other than the fact that it has a weighty-sounding name), where it is, how it is maintained, or the criteria for inclusion. Be assured that it is not part of traditional trademark practice.

Listing the mark in a third party registry is unnecessary, since the Trademark Office will assign that application to an examining attorney who is an experienced trademark lawyer. The Examining Attorney reviews that application and as part of that review, they will search the database at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. They will do a comprehensive search of all of the records at the Patent and Trademark Office to see if there are any previously filed or previously registered trademarks that would create a conflict with yours. The service being offered to you by this private company is already being provided by the U.S. government as part of its examination process.

With every month, another new trademark scam appears (or re-appears after a hiatus). This month’s comes from something called “Brand Registration Office” and features the following:

  • an office in Washington, D.C.,
  • a governmental-sounding name,
  • a seal in the top left of the offer,
  • an offer to include your mark in the “Trademark Selection Edition 2016”
  • at a cost of $1,325, and wiring instructions through Germany.

This publication has no real value to trademark owners. Trademark professionals do not rely on any private directories for anything. They are incomplete and unofficial. They do not add to your trademark’s protection in any meaningful way.

 

For more information about this or any trademark or copyright issues, please contact Fred Frawley (afrawley@eatonpeabody.com)

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