As IP lawyers we frequently receive emails from our clients asking us if official-looking unsolicited correspondence they have received about upcoming trademark deadlines is legitimate. These scam solicitations attempt to get the owner to pay a fee for services not needed or to pay inflated fees to maintain their trademark registration. There are many varieties of scams targeting owners of U.S. trademark applications and registrations, and unfortunately some are very sophisticated and therefore confusing to the recipient. Many of these solicitations come from foreign entities.
We reassure our clients that the correspondence they received is not from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and that all official correspondence from the USPTO comes directly to our office.
Scamming is so ubiquitous and has increased so dramatically that the USPTO now has a web page that explains this problem in greater detail and provides instructions for reporting a consumer complaint to the FTC. The page also includes a list of domestic and foreign companies known to be sending false solicitations and invites the public to send information to the USPTO about companies not on the list. The web page also includes a link to the official World Intellectual Property Organization "Warning" webpage concerning international applications and registrations.
As we reported earlier, in another attempt to combat these misleading solicitations and trademark filing scams, the USPTO recently filed four applications for federal registration of the USPTO and United States Patent and Trademark Office trademarks and logo design.
In October the USPTO announced that Viktors Suhorukovs, a Latvian citizen, was sentenced to more than four years in prison and ordered to pay over $4.5 million in restitution, after scamming more than 2,900 U.S. trademark registrants out of millions of dollars in fees. Suhorukovs operated companies called Patent and Trademark Office, LLC and Patent and Trademark Bureau, LLC and sent renewal notices misrepresenting the registration’s expiration date, collecting fees when trademarks were not eligible for renewal. Moreover, he was not a licensed U.S. attorney so could not lawfully file renewal documents on behalf of registrants. The USPTO worked with the Department of Justice and state and local officials to secure the conviction. So owners beware!
Lutzker & Lutzker clients can be sure they will hear from us well in advance about any approaching deadlines. But, of course, if you have any question about a notice you have received, don’t hesitate to consult us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.