Owners of registered trademarks targeted for deceptive notices
Do you have a trademark or service mark registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)? If you do, chances are you have received, or will recieve, a “notice” or “notification” from one or more private businesses trying to get you to send them money for a variety of registration services. While the fine print usually contains a disclaimer of any government affiliation, the notices are designed to look like official government documents that require an immediate response (along with payment of a fee).
An outfit calling itself the “United State Trademark Registration Office” (USTRO) has particularly deceptive notices. The following notice promises to record your trademark with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP):
The Notice looks like an invoice, and includes the phrases “FEE $375.00″, “NOW DUE,” “DETACH AND MAIL YOUR STUB WITH THIS PAYMENT,” and “Please Remember to Enclose Your Payment.”
The notice is really an offer to record a trademark registration with the USCBP. Some mark owners may benefit from recording their registration with the USCBP, but such recordation is not required to maintain the registration and you do not need to hire a company that engages in deceptive marketing to record your mark. Recording your mark with the USCBP can be accomplished at this site: https://apps.cbp.gov/e-recordations/. The Customs Office fee is $190. If you are unsure whether such a recordation would be helpful, contact a trusted attorney to find out.
Notices from a company calling itself the “U.S. Trademark Compliance Service,” (USTCS) are slightly less deceptive than those from the USTRO. The following is an example of a renewal notice:
This notice also looks like it is from an official government agency and appears to be an invoice. It has more warnings and disclaimers than the USTRO notices, such as stating under the fee amount ($475.00) that “this is not an invoice.” The USTCS notice contains accurate information about trademark renewal and affidavit of use filing requirements and offers to perform those maintenance filings for a fee. As with USTRO, I have no knowledge of their record of performing those services.
If you get one of these notices, consider contacting the attorney who performed your original trademark application (or another trusted attorney) to see if your mark registration requires any action.