WARNING: Non-USPTO Solicitations That May Resemble Official USPTO Communications
Please be aware that private companies not associated with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) often use trademark application and registration information from the USPTO’s databases to mail or e-mail trademark-related solicitations. Trademark applicants and registrants continue to submit a significant number of inquiries and complaints to the USPTO about such solicitations, which may include offers: (1) for legal services; (2) for trademark monitoring services; (3) to record trademarks with U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and (4) to “register” trademarks in the company’s own private registry.
These companies may use names that resemble the USPTO name, including, for example, one or more of the terms "United States," “U.S.,” "Trademark," "Patent," "Registration," "Office," or "Agency." Increasingly, some companies attempt to make their solicitations mimic the look of official government documents rather than the look of a typical commercial or legal solicitation by emphasizing official government data like the USPTO application serial number, the registration number, the International Class(es), filing dates, and other information that is publicly available from USPTO records. Many refer to other government agencies and sections of the U.S. Code. Most require “fees” to be paid.
Some applicants and registrants have reported paying fees to these private companies, mistakenly thinking that they were paying required fees to the USPTO. So, be sure to read trademark-related communications carefully before making a decision about whether to respond. All official correspondence will be from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office” in Alexandria, VA, and if by e-mail, specifically from the domain “@uspto.gov.”
The USPTO cannot help you obtain a refund from these private entities if you have been misled into paying money or signing up for their services based on a misleading communication. But if this happens to you, the USPTO encourages you to file an on-line consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), at www.FTC.gov. Although the FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints, it may institute, as the nation’s consumer protection agency, investigations and prosecutions based on widespread complaints about particular companies or business practices. In addition, the USPTO encourages recipients of deceptive trademark-related solicitations to contact their states’ consumer protection authorities. Many, if not all, states have the authority to issue investigative subpoenas and file complaints against companies engaged in deceptive practices directed toward state residents.
In our effort to educate the public and help trademark owners identify these non-USPTO solicitations, the USPTO posts the following examples of just some of the non-USPTO solicitations about which we have received complaints within the past several months. None of these are official U.S. government or international governmental notices. Please click on the name below if you wish to see an image of that entity’s solicitation. If you have been misled into paying money to any companies not appearing on this list, we encourage you to email us at TMFeedback@uspto.gov and include copies of the notice and the envelope it came in, so that we may assess whether to add the sender(s) to the list.
For additional examples of private solicitations concerning international applications and registrations, please see the official World Intellectual Property Organization “Warning” webpage.