It’s a sad truth that every industry has its predators. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a number of trademark scams. In fact, the US Patent and Trademark Office even has a page dedicated to trademark scams.

These often take the form of letters sent by third parties designed to look like letters from the government. They may come from “Trademark Offices” or “Trademark Registries.” These names sound official, but don’t be fooled: their only connection to the government is the postage stamp stuck on the front of their letter. Take a look at this example below:Trademark ScamsThis letter looks pretty official. In fact, many people will pay the attached bill, thinking it’s a government fee. But if you read carefully, you’ll see that this is a private company that simply “assists trademark owners in adhering to trademark compliance deadlines.” Now, in fairness, nothing about this is illegal (assuming they give a required disclaimer). However, legal and ethical are two different concepts. We believe that notices that look official are, at a minimum unethical. The USPTO (the real government agency) encourages consumers to report these letters to the Federal Trade Commission.

If you receive a notice in the mail and you’re not sure if it’s official, you should first check the address. Mail from the real USPTO  will come from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office.” Similar names won’t cut it. If you’re not sure, you can always call the USPTO. Or, if you’d prefer, feel free to call or email us. We’d be happy to tell you what the mailing is free of charge.