Is this Invoice from the Patent & Trademark Organization a Scam?

If you are asking this, the answer is probably yes.

Over the years there has been an ever increasing number of private companies that have taken it upon themselves to offer either non-existent services or services that have no benefit to businesses registering their trademarks. The trademark scam typically starts with a very official looking letter arriving in the mail with a very official name on it like the “Patent & Trademark Agency,” Patent & Trademark Organization,” or “TPP – Trademark & Patent Publications.” The letter mentions a real trademark application and then states that some fee is due to put it on their registry, or to block someone else from registering it on their register. Even if their register or publication exists, it provides no legal protection – it is just a vanity publication. Sometimes these fees are higher than what the person paid for their original application. These documents often look so good that I still feel like I have to look at each one to verify that it is a scam. Unfortunately, some people do fall for this and lose out on money they could be using to build their business.

Public Information

You might ask yourself, “where did they get my mailing address?” The answer is that trademark applications are public records – which means the owner’s name and address appear in a public database and in the Official Gazette. Some of these companies skip soliciting people who applied for their trademark registration through their attorney, but others go for as wide a net as possible – sending to every trademark registrant. Some are so indiscriminate (or brazen) that they even send to attorneys.

Protecting Yourself

Real communications from the US Patents and Trademark Office will say “United States Patent and trademark Office Commissioner of Trademark  (Alexandria VA). To protect yourself, be sure to check where letters are from. The only documents your will receive that must be paid or prepared are those from the United States Patent and Trademark Office Commissioner of Trademark  in Alexandria Virginia, or from your trademark lawyer. When in doubt, contact a lawyer .

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