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Could Your Business Fall Victim to a Trademark Scam?

Author: Fred D. Zemel|September 25, 2015

New York and New Jersey businesses are increasingly being targeted by the ever-present threat that is the trademark scam. With that said, it is imperative to be able to discern a potential fraud from legitimate correspondence from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Could Your Business Fall Victim to a Trademark Scam?

New York and New Jersey businesses are increasingly being targeted by the ever-present threat that is the trademark scam. With that said, it is imperative to be able to discern a potential fraud from legitimate correspondence from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The art of the trademark scam flourishes in large part because information about trademark registrants is publicly available online. Scammers use this information, along with official intellectual property terms, to create official looking documents intended to trick individuals and companies into paying erroneous fees and/or signing up for services that they don’t need.

Could Your Business Fall Victim to a Trademark Scam?

Evolution of the trademark scam

In recent years, the scams have not only become more prevalent, but also more sophisticated. In many cases, the fraudulent letters and e-mails closely resemble official government communications and invoices and lack the common spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and misuse of legal terminology that frequently tip off recipients to spam and junk mail.

To increase the air of legitimacy, scammers typically use official sounding names that resemble the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), by including the terms “United States,” “U.S.,” “Trademark,” “Patent,” “Registration,” “Office,” or “Agency.”  Companies also attempt to make their solicitations mimic the look and format of official government documents to plant the seeds of a trademark scam.

While the specific tactics of a trademark scam may vary, the overall goal is the same — convince the recipient to send money. Businesses may be asked to sign up for legal services; trademark monitoring services; recordation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and registration with the companies’ own private trademark registry.

Steps to take in avoiding a trademark scam

The USPTO frequently posts warnings on its website with specific details of the scams. At last count, the agency listed more than 20 fraudulent solicitations that are currently circulating. They range from fake trademark expiration notices that purport to be from the USPTO to services that promise to search trademark applications for infringing content. To keep the list updated, the USPTO encourages recipients of fraudulent solicitations to e-mail the agency at TMFeedback@uspto.gov with a copy of the communication.

To avoid becoming the next victim, businesses are advised to red the “fine print” very carefully and raise any concerns with an experienced intellectual property attorney before enrolling in these services or sending any money.

Could Your Business Fall Victim to a Trademark Scam?

Author: Fred D. Zemel

The art of the trademark scam flourishes in large part because information about trademark registrants is publicly available online. Scammers use this information, along with official intellectual property terms, to create official looking documents intended to trick individuals and companies into paying erroneous fees and/or signing up for services that they don’t need.

Could Your Business Fall Victim to a Trademark Scam?

Evolution of the trademark scam

In recent years, the scams have not only become more prevalent, but also more sophisticated. In many cases, the fraudulent letters and e-mails closely resemble official government communications and invoices and lack the common spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and misuse of legal terminology that frequently tip off recipients to spam and junk mail.

To increase the air of legitimacy, scammers typically use official sounding names that resemble the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), by including the terms “United States,” “U.S.,” “Trademark,” “Patent,” “Registration,” “Office,” or “Agency.”  Companies also attempt to make their solicitations mimic the look and format of official government documents to plant the seeds of a trademark scam.

While the specific tactics of a trademark scam may vary, the overall goal is the same — convince the recipient to send money. Businesses may be asked to sign up for legal services; trademark monitoring services; recordation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and registration with the companies’ own private trademark registry.

Steps to take in avoiding a trademark scam

The USPTO frequently posts warnings on its website with specific details of the scams. At last count, the agency listed more than 20 fraudulent solicitations that are currently circulating. They range from fake trademark expiration notices that purport to be from the USPTO to services that promise to search trademark applications for infringing content. To keep the list updated, the USPTO encourages recipients of fraudulent solicitations to e-mail the agency at TMFeedback@uspto.gov with a copy of the communication.

To avoid becoming the next victim, businesses are advised to red the “fine print” very carefully and raise any concerns with an experienced intellectual property attorney before enrolling in these services or sending any money.

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