Halloween is almost upon us, and as it approaches, trademark owners must be alert of something especially frightening. Recently, our firm has received another scam letter for trademark renewal fees. The letter, which says it was sent from the “Patent & Trademark Bureau,” is requesting for us to pay a $925 renewal fee for our BEER LAW CENTER trademark. While we do need to submit a maintenance form for this mark, we need to submit the form to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Additionally, the filing fee for the form we need to submit costs $125, not $925.
We know this is a scam because it is unlikely that the USPTO will reach out to trademark owners via snail mail to ask for filing fees. If you are ever concerned about whether you owe money to the USPTO always check the status of your trademark with the USPTO directly to prevent losing money to a scam.
The scariest part of this scam is the inclusion of accurate information about our trademark, such as its class and registration number. It makes the scam appear much more sophisticated than it actually is considering this information is public and may be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection. Additionally, the scam concerns trademark owners’ dealings with the government which adds an extra layer of trustworthiness. Simply put, this is a scam in the form of a carefully crafted document which has the appearance of government authority.
Each year, our office receives similar scam documents from companies called Glotrade, Intellectual Property Services, and Patent and Trademark Bureau. All of these prior scams demanded we pay a few thousand dollars for access to the trademark database. Luckily, a significant part of our law practice revolves around trademark and we immediately knew these forms are simply bogus attempts to bind unsuspecting trademark owners to exorbitantly priced contracts with zero actual benefits for the trademark owners.
The takeaway here is: do not give money to people or sign contracts with people without doing proper research. It is also important to remember it is unlikely the USPTO will send anything to you via “snail mail.” Correspondence with the USPTO takes place largely through the tools and links on their website including TEAS and TTABVUE.
Trademark monitoring and maintenance are important for protecting your trademark, however, both monitoring and maintenance can be done for free by the individual trademark owner. Better yet, trademark law firms are professionally equipped to ensure your mark has the most protection.