In a previous post, I discussed trademark scams and how they are used to defraud individuals and businesses out of large amounts of money. Today I thought I would revisit this issue and provide another example. A client recently came to me with the above PTMI Patent and Trademark Institute notice. I want to use this as an example to discuss these scams and how to spot them.
PTMI: The Patent and Trademark Institute
First off, I want to say that if you already have a trademark attorney and are not sure about a trademark-related communication, contact them first! They will be able to tell you if what you received is official or bogus. If you have an attorney, they should be receiving communications from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office on your behalf.
However, if you do not have an attorney, know that all communications should come from the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). These scam companies (ironically) use names that are similar to the USPTO. They do this to confuse you about the source of the letters you receive. The “Patent and Trademark Institute” sounds just like the Patent and Trademark Office. Of course, when you don’t work with the USPTO every day, that’s a mistake that you can easily make. But you should only address communications sent by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
What Am I Paying For?
Another interesting thing about these fake trademark bills is that they are not clear about what they do. Most people know that trademark registrations have to be renewed from time to time. So when they receive a document like this, which appears to be a bill, they assume that it is related. However, if you read the fine print, the “service” provided by the Patent and Trademark Institute is completely unrelated to a renewal.
The Patent and Trademark Institute offers to publish certain information for two years on the PTMI database. This information includes the owner name, address, trademark registration numbers, and trademark class numbers. There is no reason that anyone would actually want this. For one thing, that database is advertising a list of people that have been suckered by this scam in the past. And secondly, this information is already available through the USPTO database. So that is what you get for $765 if you are unlucky enough to fall into this trap.
Want a Professional to Handle Your Trademark Office Correspondence?
Again, the easiest way to avoid scams like these is to have a professional handle your trademark matters for you. If you have trademark registrations that will need to be renewed in several years, let an attorney help to keep track of the relevant deadlines. To speak with me about scam letters you have received or assistance with your trademark matters, please call me at (314) 479-3668, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete the contact form found on this page to schedule your free initial consultation today. I look forward to speaking with you.