Trademark scams range from offers to file renewal and maintenance documents, to offers to record marks with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to monitoring services, to recordation in useless databases. Some of the scammers take consumers’ money and deliver nothing. For instance, during the roundtable, the American Intellectual Property Law Association cited an example of a restaurant that mistakenly paid a scammer to file maintenance documents for a registration. The restaurant relied on the assumption that the filing would be made. Only when the restaurant sought legal counsel about enforcement against an infringer did it learn that the scammer filed nothing and the registration had been cancelled. Others scammers actually perform work but at exorbitant prices. One speaker at the roundtable had filed three civil law suits against different scammers.
When I file a trademark application or mail to a client a certificate received from the USPTO I always warn them of these fraudulent solicitations. The USPTO has a web page dedicated to this problem and has even produced an 8 minute video describing the problem and giving examples that you may watch below.
I would also like to add that patent owners face the same problem with scams as do trademark owners. Always be careful with companies that promise to promote your invention!
If you have received a solicitation for any trademark or patent related service you should consider it suspect even if the service appears to be legitimate. At the least contact me before paying for the service being solicited or call the USPTO Trademark Assistance Center at 800-786-9199 or the FTC Help Line at 877-FTC-HELP. You may also visit the following websites:
You see them on TV advertising services to promote and protect your new idea so that you can leave you current place of employment and move to Tahiti. Remember that these firms do not hold any ethical duty to you as patent attorneys do. If a patent attorney breaches their ethical duty to you it may mean a loss of their license and their income. It takes years of study to become a patent attorney and to lose it all over unethical dealings is just not worth it. However it is a far different story for Invention Promotion Firms and their craftily worded contracts that you will be signing. Click here to see a great article at the Federal Trade Commission's website providing some guidance when dealing with these firms. Click here to see more articles on this topic here on my website.