Beware of fraudsters misrepresenting as trademark office, agents

In the wake of a recent incident encountered by one of my clients who received a payment demand notice from a person claiming to be from a patent and trademark office, I felt it is imperative to discuss a few things right away.

Today, my colleague-attorney received a call from one of our clients who stated that they had received a payment demand notice from a patent and trademark office.  We were perplexed and asked our client to forward the communication to us.

Upon reviewing the notice, it turned out to be a fake agency misrepresenting as a trademark office, and we counseled our client on this over the phone and through email.  We are not disclosing more information to protect privacy of our client.

It must be appreciated that our client contacted us in the first place about this.  Apparently, this has been an ongoing menace throughout the world, not only in India, and new proprietors/users are constantly confused as to how to determine if the communication is indeed genuine or fake.

On the other hand, some handful of lawyers, agents and IP companies continue to send soliciting email communication and postal correspondences to prospective clients. This is not a practice normally done by legal firms as they are barred from soliciting clients or engage in marketing behaviors.

Some points to consider to determine if such a notice is fake or not are given below:

1)  If you have engaged a lawyer and executed power of attorney, he receives all communications to the address specified in the TM application and NOT you.

2)  Trademark offices are not after payments.  They do not pursue us to pay anything.

3)  Normally all payments are made upfront at the time of application, with only a few exceptions such as TM-61, which your lawyer would know.

4)  Notices asking you to make payment to specific bank accounts.

In case you receive such notice, do not hesitate to get back to your lawyer and if your lawyer is not accessible or unavailable, consult another trademark lawyer before acting on such things.

Thank you for reading this!