When a trademark is first published by the U.S. Trademark Office or a registration is near a filing deadline for maintenance, clients may receive unsolicited trademark fee notices. These notices come from companies with official-sounding names requesting payment from a mark owner related to trademark filings, offering publication of the mark in a business or trade name directory, or seeking payment for similar services that offer no legal protection. Some of these are clearly fraudulent. Others are more convincing. In some instances, if you read the fine print, there may even be some form of legitimate (but unneeded or duplicative) service associated with the payment. Often, those solicitations are in the form of invoices that appear to require payment in order to publish a trademark application. There is no legal benefit to such a publication.
Your clients should be advised to be very skeptical of any invoice, notice or solicitation from any entity regarding a trademark filing or registration. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has even published a warning about this practice. See, www.uspto.gov/trademarks/solicitation_warnings.jsp
James L. Young
Westman, Champlin & Kelly, PA