I think that this is what the social medial folks call “trending”. I have had three calls in the last couple of weeks from clients who wanted to know why they were being asked to pay additional fees to the Patent and Trademark office after I had already quoted them the exact fees for their trademark registration applications.
After some investigation I learned that there are companies out there – I hesitate to call them scam artists – who send letters to trademark applicants (whose names and addresses are readily accessible from the trademark office online data base) on very official looking letterhead in a very official looking envelop informing them they need to pay additional fees for a variety of services. None of this is necessary. These fees don’t go to the U.S. government but instead to a private corporation who offer a variety of services none of which have anything to do with registering or maintaining your trademark.
The small print on the letters is instructive. On the one I reviewed it actually says “This is not a bill. This is a solicitation. You are under no obligation to pay the amount stated above unless you accept this offer. This product or service has not been approved or endorsed by any governmental agency and this offer is not being made by an agency of the government”. You would think that this would convince most people of the non-official nature of the communication but right next to this in bold print it says “FEE $375 Reply By: NOW DUE.”
There are some companies that offer the one service that I wish the trademark office would find a way to offer – monitoring the time periods and alerting applicants as to when they must file their renewal documents (this is a struggle for both applicants and law firms to keep up with). I have no idea how reliable these firms are or if they will even be around in five years – or whenever the applicant needs to remind the trademark office that they are still using the mark.
The bottom line is this – if you are pursuing a trademark application and you get something sort of official looking in the mail – ask your trademark attorney before writing a check