Trademark Scams Increase, Become Harder to Detect
As companies continue to spread their identity to other parts of the world, they are becoming increasingly susceptible to fraudulent trademark scams. Companies are increasingly targeted by scammers using official looking emails and documents that threaten loss of intellectual property rights unless the company pays an invoiced fee to “protect” it through the scammer’s phony company, agency or organization.
“Trademark scams are becoming quite common,” said Adam Brookman, Boyle Fredrickson attorney and shareholder. “Unfortunately for many, scammers and their means are more sophisticated than ever before, making it harder to tell the difference between official communications and things that are fraudulent. You have to look very closely and read the fine print. Most scams rely on looking official, but falling within the law by tiny disclaimers. If a trademark application was filed by a law firm, all communication will be to the law firm. Anything that you receive directly is almost certainly a scam.”
According to the article “Beware the Many Faces of a Trademark Scam” published by Portfolio Media, there are four distinct categories of trademark scammers that companies should remain alert to:
- Masqueraders – those impersonating officials, government agencies and licensing organizations. They use communications that use official looking logos, typefaces and letter templates to encourage payment of phony invoices.
- Misrepresenters – those that present false information requesting companies to register similar domain names and/or trademarks in foreign countries to avoid confusion with existing U.S. intellectual properties.
- Overchargers – although not illegal, these groups offer services such as trademark watching for well above normal going rates, sometimes for as much as two or three times the average fee with the hope that targeted companies will not do appropriate research into average costs.
- Poachers – those attorneys/firms that troll the public trademark office records and offer services for those that recently received (or are about to receive) an action or rejection letter from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (US PTO ). Though legal, these groups will often nickel-and-dime clients by misrepresenting fees and consultation costs for further service.
Those with additional questions concerning trademark scams are encouraged to contact Boyle Fredrickson for additional information and assistance.
About Boyle Fredrickson
Established in 1999, Boyle Fredrickson has grown to become Wisconsin’s largest intellectual property law firm. You’ve got ideas, we protect them.