Trademark Scammers. USPTO SCAM.

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Non-USPTO Solicitations

USPTO Scam

USPTO Scam

Here is yet another way scammers are trying to part you from your hard-earned money.

The USPTO recently announced that trademark holders are receiving letters in the mail requesting payment on fees due for the trademarks.

The fraudulent solicitations include offers such as: for legal services; for trademark monitoring services; to record trademarks with U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and to “register” trademarks in the company’s own private registry.

Furthermore, these scammers are using letterhead that mimics the look of official government documents and are using names that resemble the USPTO, such as “United States,” “U.S.,” “Trademark,” “Patent,” “Registration,” “Office,” or “Agency.”

Trademark Scam.

The Department of Justice reported that these scams resulted in the loss of approximately $1.66 million from copyright holders, and has only resulted in 5 convictions.

So, if you get a letter in the mail stating that it’s from the USPTO office read the letter carefully before making a decision about whether to respond.  According to the USPTO “All official correspondence will be from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office” in Alexandria, VA, and if by e-mail, specifically from the domain “@uspto.gov.”

What do you do if you are a victim?

File an online consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). See here.

The USPTO has offered several examples of just some of the non-USPTO solicitations that have been mailed out, which can be reviewed here.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

Trademark. Branding. Why its important?

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Branding. Trademark.What is Branding?

Trademark protection is an essential part of your brand strategy. If you are focused on brand building, then having registered trademarks as part of your portfolio is important. Branding your business online takes thought, dedication, and most of all — time! You must come up with a color scheme, logo, design, image, and/or an image that unifies your business as a brand.  More importantly, your brand must be recognizable and must communicate to your audience what it stands for.

When you establish your business brand online, a great deal of time is invested in spreading the word across the Internet and getting your credibility established. By using online tools, such as social networking resources, video marketing, pay-per-click advertising, search engine marketing, mobile marketing, and other advertising mediums, people will eventually associate your brand with quality and value.

Without a brand name and/or a distinctive brand image, your business will not stand out in the marketplace from other vendors who provide a similar product or service. If you are going to invest time and money in establishing a presence in the marketplace, your next step should be protecting it. Protection of your brand starts with protecting your trademarks, e.g., your logos, designs, tag lines, slogans, in some cases trade names, or any other device used to market your products and/or services in the marketplace. To ensure it is done correctly — the first time — you should hire a competent trademark attorney to assist you in the process.

How to choose a trademark that can likely be protected?

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The best way is to make one up – be original and creative!

Trademark Image1My greatest challenge when it comes to trademarks is the marketing department. In most cases, marketers tell their clients, when choosing a trademark, to select a mark that “describes” what they do.

Trademark lawyers tell clients, do NOT choose a mark that describes what you do. Instead, select a mark that is unique and distinctive, not descriptive. When counseling my clients, the best way for them to accomplish that is to make up a word and then market it to the hilt.

According to the SBA, here are some other points to consider as you choose your trademark:

  • How will your trademark look? – On the web, as part of a logo, on social media.
  • What connotations does it evoke? – Is your name too corporate or not corporate enough? Does it reflect your business philosophy and culture? Does it appeal to your market?
  • Is it unique? – Pick a name that hasn’t been claimed by others, online or offline. A quick web search and domain name search will alert you to any existing use.
  • If you intend to incorporate your business, you’ll need to contact your state filing office to check whether your intended business name has already been claimed and is in use.
  • It is web-ready? – In order to claim a website address or URL, your business name needs to be unique and available. Next, check whether a domain name (or web address) is available.

You can read more tips on the SBA website here: https://www.sba.gov/content/how-name-business

Until next time, I’m attorney Francine Ward sharing useful legal information. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles.

USPTO Fee Changes

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USPTO – United States Patent and Trademark Office

Trademark Search. Trademarks.

 Trademark Applications. USPTO

Many people are probably not aware that the United States Patent and Trademark Office is not funded by taxpayer money, rather, it is entirely funded by fees paid by patent and trademark holders. When more funds are needed for the vast array of services provided by the USPTO, fees must inevitably go up.  Therefore, it’s not surprising that the USPTO has increased service and processing fees on 42 specific trademark filings, starting January 14, 2017.

In effort to drive users towards electronic filing, the largest fee increases are on paper filings. For example:

The per-class fee for paper filing has increased to $600 from $375 for an initial filing, with increases ranging from $75 to $200 on other applicable per-class fees.

Other increases include fees for paper filings to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. This includes 6 fees for initiating proceedings, and 4 fees for requesting extensions for notice of opposition fillings.

In a statement posted on www.uspto.gov, the reason for the increases are as follows:

“We have made these changes to better align fees with full costs, to protect the integrity of the register by incentivizing more timely filing or examination and more efficient resolution of appeals and trials, and to promote the efficiency of the trademark process, in large part through lower-cost electronic filing options.”

In 2015, the latest available year for data, there were 709,453 total patent documents published by the USPTO. This was a new record. The number of trademark applications for the same year was 530,270, and the number of trademarks currently registered and maintained through the USPTO is more than 2.1 million. With these numbers perpetually growing, the need for streamlining and expediting the patent and trademark process is obvious.

As technology continues to progress at a breathtaking pace, the way we process and protect intellectual property must keep pace. And it is more important than ever to get the proper legal help with your patent and trademark applications. A mistake can cost you dearly and you may never get a second chance.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

Trademark? Copyright?

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What is the difference between a Trademark and a Copyright?

While speaking at conferences  and webinars a frequent legal question that continuously  seems to come up is the difference between a trademark and screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-6-59-07-pmcopyright.

And there is indeed a distinction between a copyright and a trademark. And although both are forms of intellectual property, they each are distinctly different types of protection.

Copyright

Copyright – is a legal form of protection afforded to any original work of art or authorship that has been reduced to a tangible form. Examples again are books, articles, eBooks, photos, videos, poems, jewelry, and choreographed works. For more information on copyright, take a look at this page and check out the U.S. Copyright Office website.

Trademark

Trademark – a name, word, phrase, logo, or a combination of those things that identifies the source of a product or a service. Examples are Nike, Microsoft, Apple, the golden arches, the Nike swoosh symbol. For more information on trademark, take a look at this page and check out the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office website.

If your logo is important to you, and if it is at the core of your business, you should speak with a lawyer on a one to one basis and get some specific legal advice regarding your situation. Any information provided here is purely general informational and not legal advice.

You can read more in detail on the distinctions of both on the United States Patent  & Trademark Office website here.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward providing you with useful information to help you protect what’s yours. If you have a question you want me to answer in general terms, feel free to post the question on the comment section.  You can also connect with me through my Legal Facebook Page, my Legal Twitter Page, one of my Google+ Circles, or through one of my LinkedIn Group discussion.