Trademark applicants are in a unique position of receiving unsolicited e-mails and letters regarding their trademarks – some of which can sound intimidating and can cause unwarranted stress. Two such unsolicited communications that we have recently encountered are: (1) an email notifying a client of an office action on its trademark application with an offer to help with the response and (2) a notice of publication of a trademark application for opposition and a request for a wire of over $1,600 to a foreign company to list the trademark in their publication.
Why does this happen?
When submitting a trademark application through the USPTO website, it is important for clients to remember that the information submitted is accessible to the public. Not only is the original application searchable on the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), but every correspondence that occurs throughout the process is posted on TESS, including office action notices, responses, publication details, and refusal notices!
While neither of the notices that our clients received had any official USPTO insignia on them, they both arrived soon after they received the official USPTO notices and related to the exact topic at hand from those official notices. This shows us that people and companies are monitoring the USPTO website for any and all updates, and they are contacting applicants as soon as there is a new document posted on TESS. It is important to read though all documents and notices carefully and remember that most of these are not official USPTO communications! If you ever have any questions about correspondence that you’ve received, the USPTO is always available to answer your questions. They can usually tell you when the last official notice was sent and what the current status is, to help you figure out whether the correspondence you received is official.