Trademark registry scams, in which private companies send unsolicited correspondence to a trademark registration holder seeking money in exchange for registering the trademark with U.S. Customs or including the trademark in a catalogue, have become increasingly prevalent since 2010. Most troubling about these scams is that the letters are designed to look like official correspondence from the Trademark Office, when in reality they are entirely unrelated. The “benefits” they portend to offer have no value, since trademark registrations are already publicly available through the official U.S. Patent & Trademark Office website. Some of these companies include:
- United States Trademark Registration Office
- Worldwide Database of Trademarks and Patents (WDTP)
- Register of International Patents and Trademarks (RIPT)
- Patent Trademark Register
Recently, a lawsuit regarding one such registry scam against Florida company USA Trademark Enterprises and its principals, ended in a judgment against the scammers. (Leason Ellis LLP v. USA Trademark Enterprises, Inc. et al., 7:2012cv00620, S.D.N.Y.) The Court entered a judgment prohibiting USA Trademark Enterprises from publishing its “catalogue” for which it charged trademark registrants, and from engaging in IP-related activities in the U.S.
While this is certainly a victory for trademark registration owners, it is also a warning, as there are many other companies still engaging in trademark registration scams. Therefore, if you receive any solicitation regarding your trademark or patent, read it carefully. If it does not come from your IP counsel or the United States Patent & Trademark Office in Alexandria, VA or from an email address having a domain of @uspto.gov, it is not legitimate. If you receive any communications you suspect may be questionable, contact your IP attorney before taking any action.