The USPTO has announced that on July 26, 2017, the Trademark Organization and the Trademark Public Advisory Committee plan to hold a roundtable discussion on fraudulent trademark solicitations.
Fraudulent trademark solicitations have been a problem for trademark holders around the world for decades. Scammers typically mine trademark application and registration information available online from the USPTO public database to obtain contact information of rights holders or their agents. Solicitations often mimic the look of official government documents, or appear to be from companies whose names falsely suggest a connection with the USPTO, including terms such as “United States,” “Registration,” “Office,” or “Agency.” Typical solicitations include offers for legal services, monitoring services, or offers to record trademarks with customs officials, all in exchange for substantial fees. The cost of these scams to trademark holders can be substantial. In late December of last year, the Department of Justice reported on a mass-mailing scam that netted approximately $1.66 million from U.S. rights holders, and has resulted in five convictions to date.
The roundtable discussion is among the latest of the USPTO’s ongoing efforts to combat this problem. The USPTO already provides online resources to alert and educate the public, including an updated list of previously identified fraudulent entities, available at its Non-USPTO Solicitations page. In addition to serving as a helpful cross-reference for rights owners who receive communications from questionable companies, the list provides links to examples of past solicitations. If applicants receive a solicitation from a company not appearing on the list, they are encouraged to email copies to the USPTO so that the list may be updated.
The roundtable will take place at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, and will be attended by USPTO senior staff and TPAC members. Representatives from several government agencies such as the FTC, the DOJ, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have also been invited to participate. Trademark holders and their agents are invited to share their experiences with a fraudulent advertisement at the roundtable by contacting Leigh Lowry at TMPolicy@uspto.gov.