One of the many benefits of a federal trademark registration is that it can serve as a basis for obtaining registrations in foreign countries. Unfortunately, a federal trademark can also make you a target for foreign scammers. Foreign scammers use information from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO's) database to send trademark solicitations.
Recently, one of our clients received this official-looking invoice for $1,390 from the International Patent and Trademark Service (IPTS):
What is the IPTS? It is not a government agency. The U.S. trademark system is administered by the USPTO, which is located in Alexandria, Virginia. The international trademark system is administered by the Word Intellectual Property Organization, which is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The IPTS is located in Warszawa, Poland.
What do you get for your money? A one-year "registration" in an internet database that has absolutely no legal significance. This assumes, of course, that the IPTS actually does anything other than take your money.
So how do you avoid getting duped? You should check the USPTO’s list of known scammers before paying any suspicious looking invoices. Please also review our warnings about the following scammers:
- RPT Servis
- EPTR Trademark Register
- International Patent & Trademark Organization (IPTO)
- World Patent & Trademark Service (WPTS)
- World Patents Trademarks (WIPT)
- International Patent & Trademark Index (IPTI)
Unfortunately, the scammers stay one step ahead of the USPTO by changing names frequently. Notably, the IPTS does not appear on this list. That's one of the reasons why it helps to have a trademark lawyer who can help you avoid these scams by reviewing any solicitations that you receive.
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