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Attorney General and Secretary of State warn Maine organizations of trademark scam

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Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 12:16 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA – Maine Attorney General Aaron M. Frey and Secretary of State Shenna Bellows are warning Maine business, non-profit, and government organizations of a scam warning that an entity’s trademark is about to expire and requesting a renewal fee.

In this scenario, organizations receive a notice which purports to come from an entity that sounds like a government agency, such as the “Patent and Trademark Office.”  The notices may include accurate information about the trademark, such as its registration number and expiration date.  The notices often request payment for renewal or offer to record the owner’s trademark in a private registry (which does not exist in the United States)—for a monetary payment. These notices are often scams, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

“When you receive a notice warning that a trademark is about to expire, always verify where it comes from before you send money,” said Frey. “When in doubt, check with the USPTO to hear from the source about the status of your trademark and the steps you need to take.”

“It is a sad truth these days that unscrupulous actors are getting very creative in the ways they seek to scam people, businesses, or other organizations out of money,” said Bellows. “While they try to use false urgency to get you to act, make sure to pause and always think twice before sending money to anyone.  Your best defense is to take the time to verify that the notice, email, or text you’ve received is legitimate before you act on their threat.”

The USPTO has also warned that some notices come from private companies offering services related to trademark registration. Many of these notices are lawful, but misleading. Consumers and organizations are under no obligation to use these companies in order to work with the USPTO.

Other useful tips include:

  • All official correspondence about your trademark application or registration will be from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office” in Alexandria, Virginia, and all emails will be from the domain “@uspto.gov.”
  • Applicants and registrants can check on the status of their application or registration by checking the USPTO database. More information here: Checking the status of an application or registration | USPTO

Mainers concerned that they may have received a scam notice or have sent funds as a result of one should contact the Office of the Attorney General at (207) 626-8849 or Consumer.Mediation@maine.gov.

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