Caution: Scam alert

Don't be fooled by offers and notices from private companies; some are scams

Unfortunately, there are many businesses that are contacting trademark applicants and registrants and attempting to get them to pay fees and for services that are not needed or required, or to pay inflated fees, or to provide services which they, as non-attorneys, are not authorized to provide. Many are simply scams, and they are on the rise. Even if some are offering legitimate services, we do not endorse any of these private companies sending these solicitations, and you are not required to use them.

What is a trademark-related solicitation?

A solicitation is an offer of services, or a notice of an upcoming filing deadline with an offer of services, usually requiring a fee. Private companies often use trademark application and registration information from USPTO databases to mail, email, or text trademark-related solicitations to trademark applicants and registrants. While these solicitations may often contain correct information (for example, that a filing is due to keep a registration active), you are never required to use the services offered by these companies, and indeed, some are actual scams offering unneeded services or requesting the payment of fees that are not due.

Trademark Information Network News Video: Solicitation Alert

Watch this video to learn about potentially misleading trademark offers and notices, the types of services they offer, and how to detect them. 

 

What kinds of trademark-related services do private companies offer?

They may offer legal services, such as assistance with filings or responding to an office action. Such services may be legitimate if provided under the supervision of a licensed U.S. attorney. But many of these companies are not affiliated with licensed U.S. attorneys, and cannot lawfully provide such services. Some offer services of dubious value, such as offering to record trademarks in a private registry. Beware of all types of offers and notices not from the USPTO. For example, in March 2017, the operators of a private company—the Trademark Compliance Center—were convicted of money laundering in a trademark renewal scam. And in 2021, the operator of two entities sending out misleading solicitations under the names "Patent and Trademark Office" and Patent and Trademark Bureau" pled guilty to four counts of federal mail fraud. 

How can I tell the difference between potentially misleading trademark offers and notices and legitimate USPTO emails and notices?

All official correspondence about your trademark application or registration will be from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office” in Alexandria, Virginia, and all emails will be from the domain “@uspto.gov.”

Don’t be fooled by company names that sound like government agencies or offers that contain government data. Some company names may include terms like “United States,” “U.S.,” “Trademark,” “Patent,” “Registration,” “Office,” or “Agency.” Some offers and notices may include official government data publicly available from USPTO records, or refer to other government agencies and sections of the U.S. Code.

So read these offers and notices carefully before deciding whether to respond. We cannot help you get a refund from a private company if you paid money or signed up for services based on a misleading offer or notice.

Are the deadlines in these offers and notices accurate?

Some offers or notices may refer to upcoming deadlines related to your application or registration. We can’t vouch for the accuracy of the deadlines in these solicitations. Be wary of any information in these offers and notices.

If you have an attorney, contact him or her about the solicitation and get advice. If you do not have an attorney, check your application or registration deadlines using our database, Trademark Status and Document Retrieval. For information about why and how to check your status, read our page on Checking the Status of an Application or Registration.

I received a misleading trademark offer or notice. What should I do?

If you receive a trademark-related offer or notice that you believe is misleading, file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) immediately. Keep the offer or notice and the envelope; these may be requested later. Although the FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints, as the nation's consumer protection agency it may begin investigations and prosecutions based on widespread complaints about particular companies or business practices.

We also encourage you to contact your state consumer protection authorities. Many states, if not all, have the authority to issue investigative subpoenas and file complaints against companies engaged in misleading practices directed toward state residents.

The USPTO is not an enforcement agency. We don’t have the legal authority to stop private companies from sending trademark-related offers and notices, nor can we sue or prosecute entities that defraud or attempt to defraud our applicants and registrants. However, we can raise awareness and work closely with the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, and the United States Postal Inspection Service to combat the problem.

Are there examples of potentially misleading offers or notices?

Yes. To educate the public and help trademark owners identify these potentially misleading offers and notices, we publicly post some solicitations that we receive complaints about. Please click on the names below to see an image of the listed entity's solicitation. None of these examples are official U.S. government or international governmental notices.

For examples of solicitations concerning international applications and registrations, see the official World Intellectual Property Organization "Warning" webpage.

If you were misled and paid money to any companies not on this list, we encourage you to email us at TMScams@uspto.gov. Please include copies of the solicitation and the envelope it came in so we can assess whether to add the sender to the list. We do not need to be notified about companies already on the list below.

Solicitations originating within the United States

Solicitations originating outside the United States