A trademark application filed with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office contains required information about the trademark applicant, including the applicant’s name and address. The applicant’s name and address are publicly-available, even when an attorney files the trademark application. There are companies that exploit this public information by sending official-looking documents to trademark applicants requesting money. But, trademark applicants are *not* required to pay any fees requested by these third-parties.
Often, these third-party companies send official-looking documents stating that they provide trademark protection, or appearing to require additional fees to continue the trademark application. The scams generally fall into 4 categories: (1) claims that the company will provide legal services; (2) claims that the company will provide trademark monitoring services; (3) claims that the company will record trademarks with U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and (4) claims that the company will register trademarks in the company’s own private registry. See one example below:
It is NOT NECESSARY to pay any fees from any such company!!! The *only* time that a trademark applicant must pay fees is after receiving an official fee request from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (“PTO”). If the trademark applicant has hired an attorney and the attorney is listed as being “of record” to prosecute the trademark application before the PTO, then the PTO will not communicate any fee request directly to the applicant. The PTO will communicate fee requests to the attorney of record — not to the applicant.
Trademark applications may also include the applicant’s email address (this information is not required). If the applicant’s email address is included in the trademark application, then the applicant may receive emails soliciting fees. Again, these fees are *not* required by the PTO. See one example below:
The problem is so wide-spread that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has a webpage describing these scams.
Trademark applicants, whether represented by an attorney or not, should be aware of these scams. Unless the letter or email is actually from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, it is not official, and trademark applicants are not required to pay any fee requested.