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Vigilance required for trademark owners as renewal scams rise

published in The Oklahoman | October 11, 2019

In a business Q&A with The Oklahoman, McAfee & Taft intellectual property attorney Cliff Dougherty warned readers of an ongoing scam targeting owners of trademarks.

He explained that as part of the scam, trademark owners will be sent an official-looking solicitation from an organization purporting to be the “Patent and Trademark Office,” but which is really a private company that has carefully disguised itself.  The letter informs the recipient that their trademark is due for renewal, and that to avoid cancellation, they should sign and return the letter with a renewal payment.

“Interestingly, the renewal deadline listed on these types of solicitations is typically well (sometimes a year or two) before the renewal fee can even be paid – an obvious attempt to cash in before the renewal comes up on the handling attorney’s docket,” said Dougherty.  “The listed renewal fee is significantly higher (e.g., 50% or more) that what most law firms charge for the same service.  There is no guarantee that the required documents will be filed or that the fee will even be paid when the window for payment opens up.”

Dougherty suggested that trademark owners be vigilant in spotting such fake solicitations and, when in doubt as to a letter’s authenticity, call their intellectual property attorney.