This is not our first warning about trademark scams, and (sadly) it will surely not be our last, but it bears repeating that trademark owners should be extremely wary of any unexpected communications (email, text, snail mail) relating to your trademark assets – particularly communications requesting payment of fees.
As many brand owners are now aware, the USPTO recently commenced copying registrants on notices of registration as part of their transition to electronic registrations. However, in the process, the USPTO unintentionally made nearly 21,000 applicant email addresses public in its Trademark Status Document Retrieval (TSDR) system – easily accessible not only to the public, but also to potential solicitors and scammers.
While the USPTO has indicated that the situation is being remedied, and that it is taking precautions so it does not happen again, there is unfortunately no way to put the horse back in the barn for those applicant emails that were publicly disclosed.
So, if you receive an email regarding your application/registration from someone other than your attorney of record, do not respond before forwarding it to your attorney for confirmation. While some emails may simply be solicitations, you should take the same measures you would for any email from an unknown email address or person: do not respond or click on any links, and verify the information before taking any action.
If you are not represented by counsel, you can also check the USPTO’s Scam Alert webpage here for more information and assistance.
This article appeared in the June 2022 issue of MarkIt to Market®. To view our past issues, as well as other firm newsletters, please click here.