More and more frequently, private companies which are not associated with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have been aggressively sending out misleading notices to trademark applicants and registrants seeking substantial fees for trademark-related “services” including but not limited to legal services, trademark monitoring services, recordation of trademarks with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, and private company registrations. These “notifications” (with invoices usually included) are typically sent via mail or e-mail and display names and official-looking letterhead resembling that of the USPTO. In addition to the confusingly similar names and/or graphics used by the soliciting entities, these come-ons also usually include accurate official USPTO data such as the trademark application serial number, registration number, classifications, filing dates, etc. – all of which is publicly available information.
If you receive one of these false notifications, immediately take the following steps:
1. Verify whether it is an official government notice – all official correspondence comes from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office” in Alexandria, Virginia and/or from the domain name “@uspto.gov”. If you have any doubts about the authenticity of the notice, contact your trademark counsel at DLA Piper immediately.
2. Report the false notifications to the USPTO by emailing TMfeedback@uspto.gov, and include: (1) a copy of the notification(s) (along with the envelope, if available); (2) whether you thought the notification was an official U.S. government communication or had to ask a third party such as an attorney or the USPTO to verify; and (3) whether fees were mistakenly paid and the services paid for (if so, include a copy of the cancelled check).
3. File an online consumer compliant with the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/.
DON’T BE FOOLED INTO PAYING UNNECESSARY FEES.
For more information, visit the USPTO website at http://www/uspto.gov/trademarks/solicitation_warnings.jsp or contact Ann Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org.