What Is the US Trademark Compliance Service?
The US Trademark Compliance Service is one of a number of private companies offering useless or misleading services to recent trademark filers.4 min read
The US Trademark Compliance Service is one of a number of private companies offering useless or misleading services to recent trademark filers. The point of these services is to solicit money from unwary trademark filers for services that are fraudulent or legally unnecessary. Some don't even tell you what service you're getting for your money.
An increasing number of businesses are receiving such official-looking invoices, letters, and other solicitations for payment. These solicitations include information about your trademark application and may even contain an image of your trademark. These don't prove their authenticity, however, since all this information is publicly available.
These companies may include one or more of the following in their name to give the impression they are legitimate:
- United States
Trademark owners sometimes fall for these scams and end up paying out large sums of money, often more than they paid for their trademark registration. This is why it's important to read trademark-related mail carefully.
Protecting Yourself From Trademark Scams
There are a number of ways to avoid being taken in by a trademark scam.
- For regular mail, note the sending address. Official mail from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will come from Alexandria, Virginia.
- Official USPTO email will have a “uspto.gov” domain.
- If you use a third-party legal firm to file your trademark registration application, they will receive all official USPTO correspondence. If you have any questions about trademark mail you receive or about your trademark registration, contact your trademark attorney.
- Check the World Intellectual Property Organization's website for information on scam solicitations.
- Contact the USPTO directly to verify the status of your registration and to see if you have fees pending.
Remember, your trademark application and registration, as well as the name of any legal firm that filed on your behalf, is a matter of public record. Those with a legitimate need to contact you regarding your registration can easily find that information. They will also know to go through your trademark lawyer if that firm is listed as the Attorney of Record.
Types of Scams
Some of the more popular attempts to solicit money include:
- Offers to publish your trademark. The suggestion is that once it is made public in a book, your trademark is less likely to be copied in ignorance. Since your trademark is already publicly available through the USPTO, this is a waste of $1,000.
- Offers to register a domain name that includes your trademark in foreign countries where, according to the scam, a local company is about to claim that name. These solicitations say they've put a hold on the name and, for a sum of money, will register it for you in that country. Since a trademark is only valid in the country in which it is registered, if you don't do business in that country, there would be no point in claiming that domain name.
- Offers from so-called trademark companies to renew your trademark or respond to “Office Actions” on your behalf. Since these companies are not usually expert in trademark law, they offer no better service than you could for yourself.
- Notices from companies informing you that your trademark registration has been canceled and someone else is about to take your trademark. For a sum of money, they offer to register your trademark and make everything right. Of course, if you have heard nothing from the USPTO or your legal counsel with regard to your registration status, you may disregard such notices.
Again, if in doubt about any official-looking communication you receive in connection with your trademark application or registration, contact either the USPTO or your trademark attorney. The USPTO has a solicitation warning page on their website showing samples of scam mailings.
Here's a partial list of companies known to solicit funds from trademark applicants in a misleading or fraudulent way. These are from the USPTO's “Non-USPTO Solicitations” warning page:
- Patent & Trademark Agency (New York, NY)
- Patent and Trademark Organization (New York, NY)
- Trademark and Patent Office (Los Angeles, CA)
- Trademark Compliance Center (Alexandria, VA)
- Trademark Compliance Office (Arlington, VA)
- Trademark Office Ltd. (New York, NY)
- Trademark Renewal Service (New York, NY)
- U.S. Trademark Compliance Office (Wilmington, DE)
- U.S. Trademark Compliance Service (Phoenix, AZ)
- United States Trademark Maintenance Service (Arizona)
- United States Trademark Registration Office (Los Angeles, CA)
- USTM Information Services (Idaho Falls, ID)
Visit the USPTO's website for a complete listing.
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