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Avoiding Scams with Your Trademark Registration

The trademark registration list maintained by the U.S.  Patent and Trademark Office is public and can be mined and collected by others. The fact that trademark owners do not completely understand trademark laws and are interested in protecting their brand, building a business and making money leads to opportunity for others. Thus, third parties will use the USPTO database of trademarks to send solicitations to you when you trademark a name.

I have posted an example of a third party solicitation for international listing of a trademark in this article about whether you should list a trademark application or trademark registration in a directory.

Trademark Registration Solicatation QuestionBasic Questions to Ask About an Unexpected Invoice or Solicitation

You should ask yourself some basic questions anytime that you receive an invoice or solicitation from someone new.

What?

What is the solicitation for? Does the text or information provided on the invoice make it clear what it is for and what service is being provided? Looking the TM-Collection letter, the only place that the service is described is in the fine print where it says you approve listing in the TM- Collection Edition 2011. But, what is the 2011 Edition? What is it for? Who needs to read it? Is it required. <strong>None</strong> of these questions are answered.

Who?

Who is the solicitation from? Anytime someone wants your money, you should know them. I make it a rule not to give money to a business or charity unless I have sought them out in the first place. This basic rule helps protect from succumbing to trickery and pressure. In this case, no one knows who TM-Collection really is, according to Greymouse Education’s investigation. So, anytime you receive a solicitation from an unknown source, you should first verify the identity of the source before giving them your hard-earned money.

Why?

Why are your receiving the solicitation? The TM-Collection letter attempts to answer this question through careful placement of wording such as “International Registration” and listing in the body of the letter. I believe the type-font and layout of the letter are carefully chosen to deceive people into believe the communication is from an official government organization. Anytime, you receive a request for money, you should ask yourself why the money is due? Why do you owe? If the answer to the question “why” seem buried and unclear, then pause and ask more questions before proceeding.

Where?

Where is the money being sent if you respond to the solicitation? You should understand the destination address and be able to verify it. In the TM-Collection example, the address listed in in Hungary.  What in the world does Hungary have to do with a U.S. Trademark Application? Nothing, of course.  But the headline on the letter, the style of the letter, and the fine print sure do make it look relevant to your trademark registration. Don’t be fooled by the word “International.” Anybody can use words to make a solicitation LOOK legitimate.

Answering the above questions carefully should prevent you from making errant decisions along the path to trademark registration and protection.

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