A Scam is Among Us!
Primarily, the goal of registering trademarks is to provide stable, reliable, and predictable Intellectual Property rights for businesses and individuals who receive said registration. As the field has developed, systems have been kept in place to protect holders of Intellectual Property rights from fraud, theft, and abuse from those who are committed to stealing ideas, designs, concepts, and identities. However, a new development has occurred in the world of Trademark law.
Recently, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has warned owners of the rise of fraudulent solicitations from those who claim to be “IP Experts” that offer services to assist prospective owners and owners alike, from various countries, in their trademark applications and registration. Some of these “experts” have even held themselves out as agents or representatives of the USPTO.
The USPTO has found that the solicitations, accompanied with inflated fees, made by self-proclaimed “experts,” result in substandard services or services that are never performed. Such occurrence renders the trademark application or registration at severe risk of failure.
The USPTO has enlisted the assistance of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) to shine a light on the issue and warn the community of these fraudulent acts and fraudulent “experts”.
The USPTO has endeavored to combat the issue from the moment the information came to their attention. They now warn applicants during the registration and maintenance process. They warn applicants when they receive confirmation of the filing of an application. As well, they warn applicants when they receive a new registration certificate.
They have compiled a list of third-party solicitations from entities known for sending scams and offering misleading services and notices. You can access this information here: https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/protect/caution-misleading-notices. They have also advised applications and owners to file a consumer complaint with the FTC if they found that they have been misled or have paid money to fraudulent “experts”.
The warnings by the USPTO that shine a light on the fraudulent act of fraudulent “experts” and their entities are a promising start in continuously promoting and protecting the Intellectual Property of many.