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Navigating the Minefield of USPTO Scams

Navigating the Minefield of USPTO Scams

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THE RISE OF USPTO SCAMS 

Business owners, creators, and inventors are increasingly facing a new threat: scams related to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). These fraudulent schemes cleverly exploit publicly available information to deceive and manipulate individuals seeking to protect their intellectual property. This article sheds light on what these scams look like and offers practical advice on how to avoid falling victim to them. 

The Anatomy of a USPTO Scam  

Scammers have become increasingly sophisticated, exploiting publicly available information and impersonating USPTO officials. According to the USPTO, scammers are contacting applicants claiming there’s a problem with their application or registration, demanding immediate action or payment.  While USPTO scams can take various forms, some common tactics include: 

  • Email Spoofing: Scammers may send emails that appear to be from the USPTO, providing incorrect filing information, announcing non-existent policies with severe penalties, or request for payment.
  • Spoofing Phone Numbers: Scammers may call you using numbers that appear to be from the USPTO, even using real employee names to gain your trust.
  • Demands for Payment: These scams frequently involve requests for payment of fees that aren’t actually due or ask for personal information under the guise of official procedures.
  • Websites in Disguise: Be cautious of websites that mimic the USPTO’s branding but are in no way affiliated with the actual USPTO. 
  • Misleading Solicitations: Companies may offer unnecessary services for inflated fees or solicit personal information under the guise of providing assistance with trademark registration.

How to Protect Yourself  

A classic tactic is to instill panic. Scammers will insist that immediate action is necessary, threatening the loss of trademark rights if you don’t comply.  Don’t do it. The best defense against USPTO scams is vigilance and knowledge. Here are a few tips to help prevent you from being taken advantage of. 

  • Verify the Source: Always double-check the origin of any communication claiming to be from the USPTO. Official correspondence will come from a .gov website or an email ending in @uspto.gov.
  • Beware of Unsolicited Requests: Be wary of any unexpected requests for payment or personal information. The USPTO will never call, text, or email demand for money. 
  • Beware of Low-Cost Services: Be cautious of services offered at prices that seem too good to be true. They often are.
  • Check Credentials: Before hiring an attorney, verify their licensing credentials. Genuine law firms won’t pressure you into using their services and will have transparent fee structures.
  • Educate Yourself: Familiarize yourself with the USPTO’s official guidelines on recognizing and preventing scams.

Conclusion  

The rise of USPTO-related scams is a serious concern for business owners. By staying informed, verifying information, and working with reputable professionals, you can safeguard your intellectual property and your business’s future. If you suspect that you have been targeted by a scam, take immediate action.  If you are working with an attorney forward the correspondence to your lawyer. If not, report the scam to the USPTO. 

Remember, vigilance is your best defense against these fraudulent activities.  If you need assistance with your trademark matters, request a call from the Off the Mark team. 

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