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WARNING: Non-USPTO Solicitations That May Resemble Official USPTO Communications

Posted in Patent Counseling & Strategies

This information is from a recent Patent Office notice. Be aware that private companies not associated with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) often use trademark application and registration information from the USPTO’s databases to mail or e-mail trademark-related solicitations. Trademark applicants and registrants continue to submit a significant number of inquiries and complaints to the USPTO about such solicitations, which may include offers: (1) for legal services; (2) for trademark monitoring services; (3) to record trademarks with U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and (4) to “register” trademarks in the company’s own private registry.

These companies may use names that resemble the USPTO name, including, for example, the terms “United States” or “U.S.” Increasingly, some of the more unscrupulous companies attempt to make their solicitations mimic the look of official government documents rather than the look of a typical commercial or legal solicitation by emphasizing official government data like the USPTO application serial number, the registration number, the International Class(es), filing dates, and other information that is publicly available from USPTO records. Many refer to other government agencies and sections of the U.S. Code. Most require “fees” to be paid.

Owners and applicants should be sure to read trademark-related communications carefully before making a decision about whether to respond. All official correspondence will be from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office” in Alexandria, VA, and if by e-mail, specifically from the domain “@uspto.gov.”

If you have received a communication that you believe is misleading, e-mail the USPTO at TMFeedback@uspto.gov.

Although the FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints, it may institute, as the nation’s consumer protection agency, investigations and prosecutions based on widespread complaints about particular companies or business practices. To file an online consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), visit:  www.FTC.gov.

For additional information and examples of non-USPTO solicitations go to: http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/solicitation_warnings.jsp