A trademark owner should exercise caution to avoid paying a scam artist who sends a trademark notice requiring payment of a substantial "fee."
The fraudulent solicitation may look like an official communication from a government agency or from a company with an official-looking name. It probably has information about a trademark application or registration you own, and it may look like it is a numbered communication that is being tracked.
The solicitation may indicate that the payment is for
- trademark monitoring services,
- "registration" with a private registry,
- recordation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or
- renewal of the trademark registration.
However, such a notice most likely is a scam unless it is from
- your own attorney,
- the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) from its domain "@uspto.gov,"
- an official agency in another country such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland from its domain "@wipo.int."
If you are not sure whether such a notice is bona fide, you should check with your attorney before making any payment.
If you receive a notice from China that someone is going to register a domain name incorporating your trademark, this is likely another form of scam.
The USPTO has published a list of solicitations about which it has received complaints. If you were misled and paid money to any entity not on this list, the USPTO encourages you to email them at TMScams@uspto.gov. They request you to include copies of the solicitation and the envelope it came in so they can assess whether to add the sender to the list.
You also may wish to report a deceptive solicitation to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov. The FTC may consider acting if a particular company is committing widespread unfair business practices.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.