Have you ever received a suspicious email from someone claiming that you need to pay additional fees to get your trademark published? Beware, as most of them are in fact scams. One of our clients recently received the notice (reproduced at the end of this article) from WTP, formerly named IPT and/or ITR.
Trademark scams are nothing new in the trademark world, however, time and time again innocent trademark applicants are being scammed out of thousands of dollars. These scams cause applicants to believe that the USPTO requires further payments or that there are other ways to be granted protection by paying a fee. The only payments one should make during the USPTO Trademark Application Process are the ones officially required only from the USPTO and/or your attorney.
How does the WTP scam work?
The WTP scam takes all of the information you’ve provided in your application (which is public information) and composes it in a document, stating that for a hefty fee you can receive “the registration of your brand in our private database www.wtp-register.com. Our offer is accepted with the payment of the entire publication fee and becomes a binding contract between you and WTP.”
There is no basis for this sort of publication, as this private registration will not grant any protection to your trademark. Always remember, the only federal protections you can receive for your trademark are through the USPTO. Though the scammers do state, “You are not required to pay the above amount unless you accept this offer,” there is technically no offer to be accepted, as what they claim to offer is valueless. As mentioned, there are no additional protections to your trademark in any meaningful way.
Many other scams operate in a similar way – using the trademark application and registration information from USPTO databases in order to mail, email, or text applicants about additional fees. However, keep in mind that the USPTO never makes it a requirement to use, accept, or pay for these services. Some of these services may include assistance with filings or as WTP advertised, to be published in a private database.
What does the USPTO do about scams?
The USPTO directly addresses scams like these through its page that discusses “misleading notices.” This WTP Trademark Publication scam was recently added to its list of “Solicitations originating within the United States.” The fact that this WTP solicitation is on the USPTO website means that the USPTO has already received complaints about this particular scam.
Any time you receive a solicitation that is not an official notice from the USPTO, you should visit the USPTO solicitation site to see whether they have already posted about it. If it is not on the site, then you should contact an attorney to determine whether or not it is legitimate. If found to be a scam, you should contact the USPTO and issue a complaint so that others are aware of the scam as well.