We have written previously on this blog warning of misleading solicitations. For years,  scammers have impersonated the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in mailings, seeking payments from trademark owners for nonexistent services, such as trademark renewals. This week, the USPTO warned of a new scheme targeting trademark owners.

The USPTO put out an alert that scammers have recently started calling trademark customers and impersonating USPTO employees. The impersonators are using a common tactic known as “spoofing”—mimicking the area codes and caller information of USPTO phone numbers. The scammers will ask for personal or payment information, likely under the guise of processing official USPTO fees.

Certain trademark filings require declarations signed by the trademark owner or attorney of record. These declarations include telephone information for the signatory. Scammers can obtain telephone information for trademark owners by accessing these declarations in the trademark files, which are public records and viewable online.

The USPTO will never ask for personal or payment information over the phone. Additionally, if your trademark filings list a lawyer or law firm as attorney of record, any calls from the USPTO trademark examiners will be directed to your attorneys.

If you receive any suspicious communications regarding your trademark filings, you may consult with a licensed trademark attorney, or contact the Trademark Assistance Center (TAC) to verify the information and seek assistance on what to do next. If you have provided personal or payment information in response to a fraudulent solicitation, the USPTO offers guidance on what to do if you’ve been scammed. If our law firm is handling your trademark filings, we may recommend using a telephone number from one of our offices in your declaration filings to protect your information. We will also serve as the point of contact for official communications from the USPTO.