WARNING! If you have filed a trademark application in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), it is likely that you will be the target of private companies who will try to confuse you into paying unnecessary fees.
Here’s how it works. Once your trademark application is filed, the information in the application and subsequent registration becomes public. Anyone with an Internet connection and some minimal knowledge can access and use that information in an attempt to trick you into paying unnecessary fees. The solicitations, which often use names that resemble the USPTO name, including “United States,” “U.S.,” “Trademark,” “Patent,” “ Registration,” “Office,” or “Agency,” may include offers for (1) legal services; (2) trademark monitoring services: (3) customs recordation services; and (4) “registration” in the company’s own private registry. In addition to having official-sounding names, the solicitations also mimic the look of official government documents by emphasizing official government data, such as the serial number, registration number, filing dates, etc. Many refer to other government agencies and the U.S. Code. Almost all of them require the payment of fees.
Unfortunately, most of the services offered by these companies are unnecessary and duplicate what the USPTO does for free. In those situations where the offer may be for legitimate services (e.g., trademark monitoring services), the solicitation nevertheless attempts to confuse the recipient into believing that the services are required rather than merely optional.
The USPTO has a warning on its website about these solicitations at http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-getting-started/non-uspto-solicitations, and includes the following list of repeat offenders (clicking on the offender will take you to a sample solicitation).
It is to be noted that these entities are constantly changing their names and addresses, so the above list is not comprehensive.
How do you know what notices are legitimate? Before paying any trademark-related fees, verify that the document is from the only governmental entity that is authorized to contact you regarding your U.S. application or registration: the USPTO. Of course, if our firm has filed the trademark application on your behalf and/or is maintaining your registrations, all notifications regarding your applications and registrations will come from us, unless we have specifically worked out other arrangements. When in doubt, please feel free to contact us about documents of questionable authenticity or merit that are related to your trademarks.