We received two very official-looking invoices in the mail from a company called Trademark-DB Corp. One referenced the Strategic Marketing logo, for which we hold a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the other referenced a trademark that we hold for one of our clients. Both invoices were in the amount of $980.00. The invoice forms were identical, except one listed the company’s address as being in Delaware but the other showed an address in Texas. A quick look at the company’s website revealed that they are headquartered in the Principality of Liechtenstein! Seriously? We think it’s pretty safe to assume that the USPTO does not have a branch office in Liechtenstein.
The fine print on both invoices reads as follows: “The trademark publication provides the name of trademark owners and product names on the Internet,” and that “Publication on the trademark database register ensures the registered party is a worldwide publication on the Internet” (which actually makes no sense, but that’s what it says). These documents imply that a valuable and necessary service is being provided to the recipient; however, this is quite clearly a scam.
We were awarded the trademark on our logo in 2012. We will be required to submit a proof of use to the USPTO between the fifth and sixth year subsequent to that date, and our registration will be in force for a full ten years before it will need to be renewed. Anyone can go onto the USPTO website and search for a trademark, so this company’s offer to publish your trademark in an Internet directory is of very dubious value. We would NEVER pay $980.00 for this “service.” The filing fee for a trademark with the USPTO is only $325.
The takeaway here is to beware of any mail or email you receive that has anything to do with your company’s trademarks, copyrights or patents. These scam artists prey on businesses, hoping that their invoices will slide right on through the accounting office and get paid without anyone questioning the legitimacy of the charges. Even if their “success” rate is 1%, they are making money for doing nothing except running to the bank. If you receive anything that you suspect may be a scam, either Google search the company (like we did), contact the Better Business Bureau or check it out with your attorney first.