Sunday, December 1, 2013

Registration solicitations for trademarks, patents and domains

Dear Client or Prospective Client,

   This is a reminder to be aware of registration solicitations for trademarks, patents and domains.

   You may already know of, and have received, solicitations and warnings to register or publish your trademark, patent or application, or Internet domain(s) with what appear to be government or other official looking entities. The solicitation may sometimes be a company offering to monitor your trademarks, patents and domains for possible infringers.

   The entity typically has a name like "United States Trademark Registration Office" or other form following REGISTRATION OFFICE, or MONITORING SERVICE, or may even purport to be a law office in another country.

Most often these offerings are inadequate, if not unnecessary, and are almost always more expensive than if you use a legitimate service.

   As a matter of precaution, always check the address of any letter or email requesting money. Trademark or patent correspondence from the USPTO will be from its office in Alexandria, Virginia (typically P.O. Box 1450), or from the domain "" Your domain registrar almost always sends email. In 12 years, I have never received snail mail from any of my several domain registrars.

   Correspondence regarding foreign registration or services, such as from the "International Register of Trademarks", or the "International Register of Patents and Trademarks" can be from anywhere in the world because they are always bogus. There is no official international registration entity of trademarks, patents, or domains or even international applications for them.

   Another bogus letter or email ties together trademarks and domains, warning you to register your trademark-like domains with them to protect your trademarks. The letter may mention the "Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers" (ICANN) or "Trademark Clearinghouse" (TMCH) and may use another abbreviation containing "TLD", such as generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

   While you may be able to legitimately register a foreign trademark or domain, you are most often wasting money if you are not conducting business in the country, and if you will be conducting business in the country, you will need a legitimate partner to monitor and work with you.

Companies in the U.S. will state somewhere that "This is not an Invoice", or "Not a government agency" (if they want to stay out of jail), but foreign solicitations typically lack these because they are beyond U.S. fraud protections.

   If you are existing client and you receive something questionable, go ahead and send a scan or photo to me as a precaution - no charge. If you are interested in a foreign trademark, patent and domain filings, please contact me. I am already filing or handling foreign applications for other clients with local law firms in other countries, and they have the experience to know how to proceed correctly.