TRADEMARK SCAM: Fraudulent Mailings Stating Pending Trademark Cancellation by USPTO

A redacted example of the infamous renewal scam.

A redacted example of the infamous renewal scam.

Trademark scam alert! Why do we never charge clients to review mail solicitations they receive?  Because the scams sent out by trademark scammers are tricky and scary.  We can’t emphasize enough — never pay any trademark fees to anyone other than us without checking with us first!

Here’s the latest scam.  It comes from a place that calls itself “Patent and Trademark Office” that has an official sounding Washington, DC address (2200 Pennsylvania Avenue!  Must be legit!) that is actually a mailbox suite. The actual United States Patent and Trademark Office has offices in Alexandria, Virginia.  That’s strike one.   It shouts “Pending Trademark Cancellation by USPTO” and quotes your real trademark name and registration number.  But when it comes to the deadline, to renew, it lies:  It sets a deadline within about 2 weeks of the mailing, when your actual deadline to renew is in about 2 years from the mailing. They are trying to get you to panic and pay them without even calling your lawyer because it’s so urgent.

When Do you Really Have to Renew your Registration?

Trademark owners are required to file proof of use (also called a Section 8 Declaration) within 5 years of issuance of the registration, and are allowed to also prove continuous use and claim incontestability (called a Section 15 Declaration) at the same time.  The five years runs from the date of registration, and the USPTO actually calculates those dates for you.  You can look them up on the USPTO website through the TSDR System by typing in your registration and serial number, then clicking the “maintenance” tab.  The results (for the same client, with the serial number redacted for example’s sake) look like this:

A screen capture of the USPTO website showing the actual deadlines for renewal

A screen capture of the USPTO website showing the actual deadlines for renewal of the same trademark.

So in this case, the letter is lying not only about the renewal date, but also about the registration date (in case you know the five year rule). The scammers are counting on you to panic at the thought of losing your registration, act first, and ask questions later. Don’t fall for for this trademark scam.

The fine print admits they are not the USPTO

Make sure to read the fine print!

By the way, if you read the fine print, they even admit that they are “a private service company” that claims it “reminds companies when their trademarks are due for renewal.”  It goes on to admit that “Patent and Trademark Office is non-governmental company and is not connected to any of the governmental organizations.” 

Please don’t overpay a fake government entity an exorbitant price fill out paperwork that is not even due yet and possibly even mess up your trademark registration. If we registered your trademark for you — or even if we didn’t! — please call us. We can assist you in filing a proper Section 8 & 15 declaration at the appropriate time. Call us at 813-778-5161.