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 registration 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.
Within a matter of days of receiving a federal trademark registration, one of our clients received this official-looking invoice from the International Patent & Trademark Index (IPTI) for $2,356:
What is the IPTI? 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 IPTI is located in the Slovak Republic.
What do you get for your money? A "registration" in a private registry that has absolutely no legal significance. This assumes, of course, that the IPTI 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)
- International Patent and Trademark Service (IPTS)
- World Patent & Trademark Service (WPTS)
- World Patents Trademarks (WIPT)
Unfortunately, the scammers stay one step ahead of the USPTO by changing names frequently. Notably, the IPTI 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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