There are businesses, many of which operate online, that advertise low-cost trademark application and registration-related filing services. Many claim to help applicants file new applications, submit responses to official office actions, or help file other documents with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Make sure that any filing firm you hire has a a U.S.-licensed attorney on staff. USPTO rules require that any person or company offering to provide filing and registration services on behalf of others must be a U.S.-licensed attorney. U.S.-licensed attorneys must comply with their state’s and the USPTO’s ethics laws. Ask for the attorney’s bar license number and check it with their state bar online to ensure they’re properly licensed. Among other requirements, the attorney must:
- Conduct a conflicts check. This makes sure that the attorney has no other clients whose interests may conflict with yours.
- Work directly with you on your trademark filing. You’re talking to the attorney on the phone and by email. The attorney personally helps you complete your filing.
- Either personally signs your filing for you as your legal representative or has you sign it. No one else can sign your trademark filing. No one else can be your legal representative, not even the filing firm.
- Explain what services are provided to you, the fees associated with those services, and any fees charged by the USPTO. Confirm USPTO fee amounts yourself.
Some filing firms are violating our laws when their non-attorney employees engage in the unauthorized practice of law. We may investigate a filing firm if we discover a trademark filing that includes:
- Impermissible signatures
- False addresses
- Suspicious digital specimens
- Other indicators of fraudulent activity
We may take, and have taken, action against filing firms that violate our laws. Such actions have included restricting/revoking access to their USPTO.gov account, striking documents they filed from the record or directing examiners to not consider certain portions of such documents, or even terminating an application.
Some filing firms intentionally mislead customers and commit fraud. Find more guidance on potential scams.
Watch out for these false claims
“While we don’t have any attorneys on staff, we have agents/specialists who can provide legal advice and represent you at the USPTO.”
Only U.S.-licensed attorneys can give legal advice or represent you at the USPTO; agents and specialists aren’t U.S.-licensed attorneys.
“You won’t own the rights to your trademark unless we file an application for you with the USPTO.”
This is not true. While there are benefits to federal trademark registration, there is no requirement that you register your trademark.
“We’re approved by the USPTO and work in partnership with them, so we can expedite examination of your trademark application.”
The USPTO doesn’t work with or endorse any private filing firms.
“You must pay an invoice from the USPTO or immediately pay a renewal fee to avoid cancellation.”
The USPTO does not issue invoices and will never ask you for your credit card number in general correspondence or over the phone. We do not call, mail, or email registrants and demand renewals or payment of fees.