Trademark Troublemakers

The information you submit to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) during the trademark registration process is public record and will eventually become accessible to anyone who seeks it out. This can include your contact information and details regarding your mark such as the registration date and the way in which it is used in commerce. Maintaining public records is essential to any democratic society because it provides governmental transparency, but it also opens the door to what the USPTO refers to as “potentially misleading offers and notices.”

Spammers and others with less than pure intentions often tap into the USPTO system to obtain information about trademark owners. That information is then used to send communications crafted to look remarkably like USPTO correspondence in the hopes of luring unsuspecting trademark owners into spending money. These communications often assert that fees for maintenance of registered trademarks are due. And many employ “official” sounding names and email addresses, making it even more difficult to distinguish those from official communications.

To avoid being enticed into a compromising situation, remember that official USPTO correspondence regarding your registered trademark or application will only come from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office.” If by email, they will come from “@uspto.gov.” All requests for information will ask you to submit filings and payments through the USPTO online TEAS system, and no fees will ever be accepted via mail. Most importantly, when in doubt, contact an attorney before sending any information or remuneration.

If you have received a false or misleading offer or notice regarding your registered trademark, you can help prevent further fraud by filing a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, emailing the USPTO at TMFeedback@USPTO.gov, and filing a complaint with your state consumer protection authority. Please feel free to contact our office at (248) 477-6300 if you have questions or concerns about correspondence you have received.