The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has put its records online, including trademark owners’ full addresses. As a result, many shady but official-sounding businesses are now contacting trademark owners and offering scam services.
For instance, such businesses may offer to arrange third-party publication (which is unnecessary), or they may offer legitimate services such as filing a record with the Customs Office at exorbitant prices.
The most dangerous scams offer to renew a trademark registration without properly updating the declarations as to identification and use. Trademarks that are renewed in this manner may later turn out to be invalid, and may be cancelled or successfully challenged by competitors.
If you receive any unsolicited correspondence about your trademarks, be sure to speak with an attorney to find out if it is legitimate.
“Red flags” of a possible scam include any bill, invoice or request for prepayment from the Patent and Trademark Office. (The Office only accepts online payments at the time of filing.)
The Office is located in Alexandria, Virginia and its domain is uspto.gov. Any correspondence from a different city or directing you to a different domain is likely fraudulent.
Also, by law the Office can communicate only with the “attorney of record” on your trademark filings. Any communication addressed to someone other than the attorney of record is almost certainly a scam.