Have you recently filed a trademark — or are wondering how to do it? You can register a trademark for your business name, your unique tagline, any catchphrases that are unique to your business, your business logo(s), or anything else that is intrinsic to your brand identity.
While we won't get into how to register a trademark in this blog, we do want to talk to you about what happens after you register your trademark.
What happens after you register your trademark?
After you register a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you get your trademark published in their weekly online Trademark Official Gazette. There's a 30-day period during which someone can oppose it.
If no one opposes your trademark during the publication period, your application proceeds to the next stage of the registration process. It won't be registered by this point, and it can actually take three to four months from the time your trademark publishes to when you receive official notification that your trademark has either registered or moved to the next stage.
In some cases, you'll get a notice of refusal. No matter what, though, these communications regarding your trademark will ONLY come from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In fact, the USPTO even goes so far as to tell where to expect their communications come from: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.
While you wait for communication from the USPTO, however (and even after your trademark is registered), you might receive a few weird letters in the mail — even "invoices" that don't come from those two places.
What do you do with them?
What to expect from spam trademark letters and invoices
If you've ever filed your LLC with your Secretary of State or even purchased a car or home, you've probably seen the "spammy" letters that come shortly after. They usually tell you that you need a warranty, or you owe more money, or you can get a cheaper rate on whatever it is they're selling. Worst of all, these communications can look very formal, and can be entirely misleading.
We recently received a message from someone on Instagram asking if a trademark letter was real, or if it was spam. Unfortunately, that person is not alone. This happens to virtually everyone who files a trademark.
These are called "trademark-related solicitations" by the USPTO — it's basically an offer of services, or a notice of an upcoming filing "deadline" with an offer of services, usually requiring a fee. Private companies often use trademark application and registration information from USPTO databases to mail, email, or text trademark-related solicitations to trademark applicants and registrants.
While these letters and communications may often contain correct information, like your filing due date or the name of the trademark, you are never required to use the services offered by these companies.
These trademark-related solicitation companies often have names that sound like government agencies. They use "United States" and "agency" a lot, and include official-sounding information from government records (which are public). Many people have been tricked by these solicitations (or scams, as we'd prefer to call them), so don't feel bad if you've ever wondered about it yourself.
Do you have to worry about deadlines or invoices you receive?
So... what do you do with these letters? Our best suggestion is to be aware that most of the letters you'll get about your trademark are going to be spam. Our second suggestion: If you do not have an attorney managing your trademark, check your application or registration deadlines using the USPTO site.
You can check your trademark status directly from their website, and all fees associated with your trademark will be requested by the USPTO. You can even check their fee schedule — but generally all payments are required when you file, publish, and officially register your trademark.
The biggest takeaway: Unless it's from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, it's not an official invoice or document. Don't worry about it. You can report the "solicitation" to the Federal Trade Commission, and even state consumer protection agencies. Just keep in mind that you'll probably see these invoices/notices come in about the time you need to renew your trademark.