Unofficial Trademark Catalog Scam
Many business owners have received unsolicited letters from around the world requesting payment for publication of trademarks in some obscure catalogs and magazines. Find out whether these invoices are legitimate or if it's a scam and what to do about it.
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NARRATOR: Monica registered her trademark with the Trademark Factory. She’s just received a suspicious invoice and is absolutely furious.
MONICA [Hysterically yelling in the phone]: Hey, I thought you said the Trademark Factory will charge me a flat fee?!
TRADEMARK FACTORY [trying to figure out what it’s all about]: Well, yeah…
MONICA [as if she didn’t hear the answer, continues yelling]: I trusted you with my brand, I trusted you with my money. I thought you were different from all those other lawyers. How could I be so blind?! What is this?! First you tell me it’s all done, my trademark is registered, you give me my framed certificate and I’m so happy, and two months later you send me another invoice to publish my trademark in some catalog?!
TRADEMARK FACTORY [surprised]: We did what?
MONICA [as if she didn’t hear the answer, continues yelling]: Another thousand dollars? I’m gonna show you a thousand dollars! Like hell am I paying this! Are you kidding me?!
TRADEMARK FACTORY [Calmly]: Oh, I think I know what happened...
MONICA [keeps yelling]: Oh, now you’re gonna come up with some lawyer excuse. Your usual “the foregoing notwithstanding” nonsense! Who do you think I am?
TRADEMARK FACTORY [Firmly]: Monica, let me explain…
MONICA [yelling]: I don’t need your explanations, I just want you to take your invoice and shove it down your throat!!!
TRADEMARK FACTORY: My invoice? My throat? We didn’t send you any invoices…
MONICA [still upset but no longer yelling]: Yeah, right, so what am I holding in my hands right in front of me? I’ll read it to you: “International Catalogue of Trademarks. Blah-blah-blah, then my trademark there, blah-blah-blah,” and then it says, “The above mentioned data constitute a sample registration. If you transfer the amount indicated, you automatically approve this offer for listing in the Edition 2014. In case of any changes, please kindly inform us via email. After printing you will receive a complimentary copy of the publication. Below sum is payable in advance, by remitting a cheque, or by money transfer. Registration costs $1,000. Payable within 8 days of receipt.”
TRADEMARK FACTORY: I have good news... and good news. Which do you want me to start with?
MONICA [mockingly]: Very funny… Start with the good news.
TRADEMARK FACTORY: Well, the first thing is that you managed to avoid getting caught in a scam.
MONICA: You have the nerve!
TRADEMARK FACTORY: And the second thing is that we never sent you this letter, we have nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, it’s a well-known scam when fraudsters from around the world send out letters like the one you received, hoping that trademark owners pay a ton of money for something that’s absolutely worthless.
MONICA: So I don’t have to pay it?
TRADEMARK FACTORY: Never in a million years…
MONICA: And you didn’t send it to me?
TRADEMARK FACTORY: Of course, we didn’t. Our mission is to help business owners, not to rip them off!
MONICA: I’m soooooooooooo sorry I said all these nasty things… I guess I lost my mind when I saw the invoice…
TRADEMARK FACTORY: That’s precisely what the scammers are after, that you would get mad and pay. I’m glad you called us first...
MONICA: I just can’t believe it. So there’s no benefit in publishing my trademarks in this catalog?
TRADEMARK FACTORY: None whatsoever. It’s like printing your trademark with invisible ink in a 50-year old phone book of a town you’ve never heard of. This publication does not protect your brand, it does not give you any additional rights, and the only people who are going to see it would be other brand owners who were ripped off the same way you were.
MONICA: I understand.
TRADEMARK FACTORY: We got your trademark registered. You’ve got many years ahead of you before you need to renew it. And since we registered your trademark, we’ll make sure to notify you of all important deadlines.
MONICA: So how do I know what to do if I receive another letter like this in the future?
TRADEMARK FACTORY: Very simple, just call us, and we’ll have a look at it. Just don’t yell right away, OK?
MONICA: Again, I’m so sorry. You’ve been so helpful all the way, It’s just that I’ve had some bad experience with lawyers, and here I just freaked out. I can see that you are nothing like the lawyers they make jokes about. Thank you so much for your work and for your patience with me.
TRADEMARK FACTORY: No problem. Again, we’re here to help. And by the way, I’m not even billing you for this phone call!
Disclaimer: Please note that this cartoon is not and is not intended as legal advice. Your situation may be different from the facts assumed in this cartoon. Your watching this cartoon does not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and Trademark Factory International Inc., and you should not rely on this cartoon as the only source of information to make important decisions about your intellectual property.
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