Ryan Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC
401 Union Street, Suite 1500
Seattle, WA 98101-2668
206.464.4224
Ryan Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC
401 Union Street, Suite 1500
Seattle, WA 98101-2668
206.464.4224

Ryan Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC
401 Union Street, Suite 1500
Seattle, WA 98101-2668
206.464.4224

News & Articles

Beware of Trademark Scams: 3 Essential Tips to Protect Your Intellectual Property

Published March 5, 2024

A troubling scam has recently emerged in the realm of trademark protection. These scams specifically target trademark owners with misleading warnings concerning their trademark rights.

Some of you may have received unsolicited emails from individuals or organizations claiming to offer trademark services. These emails often include dire warnings that your trademark rights are at imminent risk. In some instances, these communications reference legal statutes such as the Lanham Act or baselessly allege that another party is on the verge of registering your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The purpose of these warnings is to frighten you with legalese and false urgency.

The truth is that trademark rights are important and may require regular maintenance on your part (which can include registration with the USPTO) to keep them robust and in good standing. However, scammers will try to prey on your anxieties—and perhaps your unfamiliarity with how trademark law really works—to send you down the wrong path. Responding to such communications or taking any action without proper consultation can potentially jeopardize your trademark rights, expose you to unnecessary risks, or at the very least cost you money with little to show in return. Remember, a reputable attorney will never reach out unsolicited to offer legal services with warnings to “act now or else.”

Here’s how to protect yourself from such scams:

  1. Understand the Basics: A trademark can be anything, whether a word, phrase, or logo, that helps customers to identify and distinguish your products from the products of others. Trademark rights can be established through use of a trademark in commerce, even if the trademark is not registered. Contrary to common belief, trademarks are not “issued” or “granted” by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or any other entity. Instead, the USPTO will grant a registration to trademarks that meet the necessary qualifications, which for U.S. applicants includes proper trademark use. In other words, trademark rights arise first and foremost from use, not registration. Scammers often exploit misunderstandings around this process to mislead trademark owners, convincing them to pay unnecessary fees or take imprudent actions that provide no tangible benefit.
  2. Spot Warning Signs: Scammers are constantly evolving their tactics to take advantage of even experienced trademark owners. Be cautious if you receive warnings from anyone other than your trademark attorney about your trademark expiring or someone else attempting to register your mark.

Remember these tips:

  • Only the USPTO (and no other so-called “Office”) issues official notices regarding trademark registration deadlines.
  • Communication from the USPTO will be directed to your attorney if you are currently represented by one before the USPTO.
  • The USPTO will not contact you if you have not already submitted an application to register a trademark.
  • High-pressure tactics suggesting that your rights are in immediate jeopardy should be met with skepticism. Consult a trusted attorney before taking any action.
  1. Seek Trusted Legal Advice:Falling victim to a scam is often a matter of when, not if, given the evolving tactics of scammers. If you have been contacted by any party claiming that your trademark rights are in jeopardy unless immediate action is taken, we strongly advise against responding or engaging with them without first seeking guidance from a trusted attorney who can advise on legitimate deadlines, identify any necessary actions to safeguard your rights, and assess any potential risks to your trademarks. Protecting your trademarks requires careful consideration and informed decision-making, which can only be ensured through professional legal counsel.

To further assist you in navigating this complex landscape, we direct your attention to an important article published by the USPTO. We encourage you to review this article for valuable insights into the nature of trademark-related scams and additional information on protecting your intellectual property rights.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding trademark protection or any other legal issue, please do not hesitate to contact any member of our intellectual property group. Our team is committed to supporting you every step of the way by discussing your trademark rights, determining the best course of action, and providing tailored assistance to protect your intellectual property.





Author

John Halski


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