Trademark scams you should know about

Blog Post

Imagine this: You have recently worked closely with your trademark attorney to select and clear a new trademark that is key to your business and branding. Your attorney has filed your trademark application on your behalf, and now you wait. Then, the first “news” you get about the status of your trademark application comes via mail, email, text, or even telephone call, asking for additional payment or personal information. While it looks and sounds “official,” a sixth sense tells you that it is not. In fact, you are correct – and if you had been a little less careful, you could have been the victim of one of many trademark phishing scams that seem to be multiplying weekly.

To obtain a trademark registration, you must first file an application with the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), which then creates an official record that is publicly available at Scammers are able to use this information to craft compelling phishing calls, texts, and emails in an effort to fool you into believing that, if you hand over payment or personal information, they will help you protect your mark and brand from immediate assault. These scammers may pose as USPTO personnel or as legal firms. Their scams can originate via phone call, text, email, or even snail mail. However, they all have certain hallmarks that make them recognizable as illegitimate.

Below is one such scam recently received via email by a McDonald Hopkins client.

This scammer used an official-sounding name, “Legal Department of Trademark Registration,” and stated that the recipient needs to take “urgent” action to avoid a loss of rights. Email scammers often disguise email addresses and signature blocks to look like they come from USPTO personnel. For example, legitimate USPTO email addresses end in “” Scammers will adopt email addresses that include “” or “” to deceive trademark applicants.

Other scams targeting trademark applicants come via phone call or text and have become increasingly frequent and sophisticated. Scammers often manipulate caller IDs and phone numbers to mimic official USPTO contacts. For instance, where the actual USPTO phone number is (800) 786-9199, scammers may use numbers such as (800) 786-9198 or (888) 786-9199.

No matter the means of communication, scammers typically use “official-sounding” names, like the one in the email above, that include terms like “U.S.,” “Trademark,” “Patent,” “Registration,” or “Office” in the title, to create a false sense of legitimacy. In addition, they often state that a response is “urgent” and must be received “immediately” at the risk of losing the applicant’s rights.

Trademark applicants should know that the USPTO does not issue urgent notices that require immediate response, so if an applicant sees this type of wording, they can surmise that the communication is not legitimate. In addition, a third party filing an application for your mark or brand does not result in your immediate loss of rights. In fact, you have rights based upon your use of your mark in commerce, and the USPTO provides several legitimate actions and procedures that would allow you to challenge any such interloper. Finally, no legitimate law firm – purportedly representing a third-party applicant – would ever reach out to a trademark owner with a potentially conflicting trademark to advise the owner of their client’s upcoming filing, as doing so would violate their ethical obligations to their client in several ways.

As a takeaway, the table below compares the USPTO and scammer activity.






Slight variations:




RARELY used: (800) 786-9199

Spoofed Caller IDs with slight variations:

  • (800) 786-9198
  • (888) 786-9199


USPTO’s Official Electronic Filing System (or payment through your attorney)

Phone, email, check, or money order to third-party addresses


Ample Time – 3 months or 6 months


Vague Threats

Urgent Language


NEVER requests personal or payment info

Requests credit card or social security numbers

Authorized Services

ONLY Communicates by:

  • USPTO Services
  • Your Registered Attorney

Offers Trademark Services for Fee

If McDonald Hopkins filed your trademark application on your behalf, we will be listed at the USPTO as your attorneys of record and correspondents for your application, and all legitimate communications from the USPTO will come to our firm, and we will then forward them to you. If you receive a call, text, or email with the above hallmarks from anyone other than your McDonald Hopkins attorneys, it is likely to be a scam; nevertheless, you should contact us to be sure – we are happy to help!

If you have further questions or need assistance with any trademark matters, please contact Suzanne K. Ketler, Sean F. Mellino, James P. Muraff, or any of McDonald Hopkins' intellectual property attorneys.

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