Last month a California man was indicted for his role in a mass mailing scam targeted at the holders of U.S. trademarks. Artashes Darbinyan was charged with 12 counts of mail fraud and four counts of identity theft. According to the indictment, Darbinyan operated the Trademark Compliance Center (also known as the Trademark Compliance Office). Darbinyan’s company would send mass mailings to new trademark registrants, inviting them to register their trademarks with the U.S. Customers and Border Protection database for a fee. The mailings claimed that upon registration, the agency would then screen and block imports of infringing products. These solicitations were formatted to look like official invoices and charged a $385 fee. According to the indictment, Darbinyan kept the proceeds of the fees, but never provided any of the promised services.
TIP: Companies regularly receive solicitations for services related to recently filed applications that may be appear to be official correspondence from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or some other official government agency. Reach out to your trademark counsel to determine whether the correspondence you receive is legitimate before making any payment.