Once a patent or a trademark application is filed with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), the application (or the later issued patent or trademark registration) will become a record that may be searched and reviewed by the public. Troublingly, those public records have presented an opportunity for some individuals and private companies lacking scruples to take advantage of unwary applicants/owners. It is increasingly common for applicants to receive solicitations for services from private companies passing themselves off as an official governmental office – specifically, either the USPTO or a foreign patent and trademark office. While these solicitations vary in the particulars, they all have one thing in common – they are designed to make the applicant believe that you must or at least should hire the solicitor to “protect” patent or trademark rights.
How can they pull this off? It’s actually pretty easy. Companies sending such solicitations typically use business names that incorporate terms like “United States,” “Patents,” “Trademarks,” “Registration,” and they typically include specific application filing information taken from the publicly available electronic records. They invariably ask for fees. Combined, these solicitations look convincingly “official.” They are anything but that.
While maintenance fees must be paid to maintain both patents and trademarks after they issue, you will never receive a mailing from the USPTO requesting such payments. The USPTO has begun to send out electronic courtesy reminders regarding maintenance fees, but these reminders are NEVER sent via regular mail.
So, if you are unsure whether a solicitation for the maintenance or registration of your domestic or foreign patent or trademark is legitimate, review some of the samples of scam solicitations that can be found here:
If our firm filed your application, and you receive a solicitation regarding the maintenance of your patent or trademark from anyone other than our firm, the chances are extremely high that it is a scam.