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Trademark Renewal Solicitation Letters – Are They Scams?

Without a doubt, I get close to two or three calls/emails a week from clients telling me that they received something in the mail telling them that they have to pay a fee in order to keep their trademark registration alive, to renew their trademark registration or, my personal favorite, to “monitor” their trademark application. I’m not quite sure what the “monitoring” service is, but at least some of these letters purport to offer a service, such as filing a renewal. Whether they are able to properly retrieve a specimen and prepare the documents correctly remains to be seen.

As I am writing this article, it is only Wednesday, and I have already received two trademark renewal scam solicitations from clients. We may be on pace to set a new record! This is not the first time we have written on this topic. I dug into our archives and found another article from ten years ago. Obviously, the problem persists.

These solicitations are getting so frequent that I put a video up on our Firm’s YouTube channel that addresses it. I also noticed that the US Patent and Trademark Office updates their Scam Alert page with new solicitations that they receive from practitioners. To highlight how much of a scam these letters generally are, in 2021, Viktors Suhorukovs was sentenced to four years in federal prison for running such a scam. One of the companies that is mentioned in the information about Suhorukovs is the Patent and Trademark Bureau, which is the exact group that I received a trademark renewal scam from today! It seems like there has been an attempt to crack down on these groups, but scammers will always be scammers…

So, what should you do? If you receive one of these notices and are not sure what to do with it, send it to your attorney. If you are a client of Widerman Malek, then my general advice is that if a notice did not come from us, it is probably a scam. Again, however, if you are not sure, send it over to us and we will let you know.

The troubling part of these notices is that they seem “legit.” They will often include what appears to be a government seal and will not make it obvious that their “service” is optional. These notices often look like invoices that require your payment via return mail. In many instances, I have noticed that the dates they provide are completely wrong. Sometimes they offer to renew a trademark that has not even been allowed yet. This is all the product of companies that are trying to separate you from your money and charge exorbitant fees for a “service” that may not even be necessary. When in doubt, contact your attorney. If you do not have an attorney for your intellectual property portfolio, I recommend you find one that is well versed in the area.

We understand that these scams are annoying and we hate them as much as you do, but please do not hesitate to contact me or any of the attorneys at Widerman Malek if you need help with the trademark application process.