Pending Trademark Cancellation Scam Alert
November 3, 2023
Pending Trademark Cancellation Letter From The Patent and Trademark Office and TMP Publication of Your Trademark
Pending Trademark Cancellation Letter From The Patent and Trademark Office
If you are the owner of record of a trademark registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you may have received an official looking letter in the mail with bold print “PENDING TRADEMARK CANCELLATION, advising you that your trademark is about to expire. The letter warns that if your trademark is “not renewed in time, your exclusive rights to that mark may be terminated.”
The letter is sent by “PATENT & TRADEMARK OFFICE,” and references the website www.pto-us.com. Be aware that this letter is not from the United States Patent Office. In fact, buried in the “notice” is a statement that “Patent and Trademark Office is a private company, not associated with any official governmental organizations.”
Unfortunately, the PTO-US scam is not the only one out there. There are many businesses that are contacting trademark applicants and registrants, attempting to get them to pay fees and for services that are not needed or required, or to pay inflated fees. These scammers use information obtained from public record searches on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Offices online database.
Here is an example of the PATENT & TRADEMARK OFFICE / PTO-US scam notice:
The PATENT & TRADEMARK OFFICE is just one of many scammers contacting businesses and individuals owning trademarks. While these scams may seem overwhelming, there are some easy ways to avoid falling victim.
All official correspondence about trademark applications or registrations will be from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office” in Alexandria, Virginia, and all emails will be from the domain “@uspto.gov.” Don’t be fooled by company names that sound like government agencies or offers that contain government data, or by individuals impersonating the USPTO with spoofed phone numbers. Some company names may include terms like “United States,” “U.S.,” “Trademark,” “Patent,” “Registration,” “Office,” or “Agency.” Some offers and notices may include official government data publicly available from USPTO records, or refer to other government agencies and sections of the U.S. Code.
TMP Publication of Your Trademark
Another common scam is the “TMP Publication of Your Trademark” letter. In this scam, the TMP Online Services, using an address in Astoria, NY, sends an official looking letter resembling an invoice with the header “PUBLICATION OF YOUR TRADEMARK” that lists the application date, application number and classes under which the mark was registered, along with an image of the mark. Below the mark is a statement of a fee of $1,280 with bold-face type to pay within 14 days. Of course, the small print contains a statement that it is an offer to publish the applicant’s trademark in TMP’s private registry, and the disclaimer that TMP is not associated with any government agency. This “publication” offering is worthless. The United States Patent and Trademark Office publishes every filed trademark in the Trademark Official Gazette (TMOG), an official publication of the USPTO that is published each Tuesday and contains bibliographic information and a representative drawing for each trademark published, along with a list of cancelled and renewed registrations. It is the only required publication for trademarks.
The easiest way to avoid becoming a victim is to call your trademark attorney or forward to him or her the email. Remember, federal or state government agencies will never send you a message telling you to send a payment. Take your time and carefully read any correspondence. If you receive a notice, such as the those from Patent and Trademark Office or TMP, throw it in the trash. You may want to report TMG and other scammers to the USPTO at TMScams@uspto.gov, and for mail fraud and scamming, to the US Postal Inspection Service at https://www.uspis.gov/report.