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Tis the season of scam calls beware of USPTO impersonators

Since the beginning of 2022 there has been a substantial increase in scams targeting owners of trademark applications and registrations at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) through phone calls, text messages, and emails.

These scams, along with cybercrime overall, continue to be concerning. Advances in technology have provided a smooth highway for scam calls from anywhere in the world making it easier and cheaper than ever before.

Recently, we have observed a spike in phone scam attempts by pillagers seeking to interfere with trademark applications. This includes deceit relating to coercing victims in to providing personal information and paying fraudulent fees.

A commonly used scam involves the use of phone number spoofing services. In these situations,  incoming phone numbers appear to be originated from the USPTO, but they are not. Scamming thieves will call a patent applicant directly attempting to solicit social security numbers, bank account details, and other payment information. Scammers will frequently claim that there was a fee deficiency or other issue related to their application.

Make note that the USPTO does not and will not call applicants directly and particularly when there is an attorney on file representing the applicant. Additionally, the USPTO does not handle payments over the phone so a request to provide bank or credit card information is an immediate red flag.

If you receive such a call, we recommend declining any requests made by the caller. Instead, direct them to your listed correspondence attorney and end the call.

For additional information, please consult the USPTO’s alert on the topic, or contact Kyle B. Straughan, or the KTC attorney with whom you typically work.