In today’s issue, I give you a fair warning about trusting your filling needs to just anyone. The USPTO recently announced two significant wins in the fight against fraudulent and problematic registrations. One case involved an imposter with a sophisticated mail scam, and the other involved a licensed attorney in California who had been providing trademark services to clients since 2005.
The case of Viktors Suhorukovs
In September, the Justice Department announced prison time and a significant fine for a trademark solicitation scammer. The Latvian citizen defrauded nearly 3,000 victims over a period of three years.
Viktors Suhorukovs admitted to operating two entities, “Patent and Trademark Office LLC” and “Patent and Trademark Bureau LLC” –names that resemble the official name of the USPTO. He mailed “renewal notices” to his victims, which misrepresented the expiration date of trademark registrations. The notice directed victims to sign and return the paperwork to renew their trademark, with a follow-up invoice for the service.
Suhorukovs admitted that he did not or could not renew the registrations because those trademarks were not yet eligible for renewal. Additionally, Suhorukovs could not lawfully file renewal documents because he was not a licensed US attorney.
He was sentenced to 52 months in federal prison and fined $4,521,593 after pleading guilty.
The case of Davasena Reddy
The USPTO’s Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) published an order in September regarding disciplinary action against US licensed attorney, Davasena Reddy.
In February 2020, Reddy was contacted by an IP attorney in India affiliated with KA Filings. The KA Filings representative proposed that California-based Reddy act as the attorney of record on trademark applications filed with the USPTO by its clients. She accepted, and they agreed that KA Filings would prepare trademark documents for filings. She would then review and file them as attorney of record. In exchange, she would be paid $100 per hour.
She admitted that she “personally inserted her signature before its filing with the USPTO.” However, as she filed approximately 15 applications a day, Reddy acknowledged that her reviews were sometimes inadequate. The OED determined that she “did not take reasonable steps” to ensure that KA Filings provided each applicant with key legal information, such as what constitutes a proper specimen of use.
Since admitting to breaches of ethical rules, Reddy pledged to terminate the business relationship and requested that the applications in which she is listed as attorney of record be transferred to someone else. She agreed to serve a 12-month probationary period, complete six hours of legal education, and provide a verified declaration attesting that she has thoroughly reviewed all provisions of the USPTO’s Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure.
The bottom line:
It is possible to file your trademark or copyright application without any help at all. There are plenty of services out there that advertise the ease, speed, and relatively low cost of filings. Is a lower fee worth the risk of your life’s work? Do you know who is going to work for you, how experienced they are, and if they are capable of jumping through all of the necessary hoops to succeed?
When we work together, you are working with someone who has been practicing Intellectual Property Law exclusively since 1996. As a trademark and patent specialist, I am a qualified representative who is thorough and knowledgeable, helping ensure all issues are reviewed and approached in your best interest. Do not trust your life’s work to an unsolicited offer or just any professional. Contact me today. I am here to help you succeed.