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USPTO warns of unauthorized trademark file changes

People and businesses in Colorado may be concerned about an alert issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Oct. 19. The agency sent a message warning about a scam that aims to hijack trademark files for their use in third-party brand registries. This scheme was discovered after multiple trademark holders found that there had been changes to their files at the USPTO that they did not authorize. The changes affected both applications and completed registrations.

While the USPTO said that only a small portion of the total number of files the office maintains had been affected, they warned all registrants to check their files in order to ensure that their accounts were not breached. The USPTO said that the forms had been filed through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) without the consent of the actual rights holders.

When a change is made to a USPTO application or registration, trademark holders are automatically notified by email. Some people may ignore these messages, but it is important to pay attention whenever a notice arrives. There are some authorized changes, even if they may be unexpected; for example, when a new lawyer is hired or a prior lawyer departs the case, a change of correspondence alert will follow. If an unauthorized change is detected, however, customers can report it directly to the USPTO. They can forward the automated message to TEAS with information about the application affected by the fraudulent changes and any relevant details. Someone reporting unauthorized actions should include their relationship to the original application as well as their names and direct phone numbers.

Navigating trademark protection can be critical to ensuring that businesses and individuals keep their intellectual property safe. An intellectual property lawyer can help innovators to register their trademarks properly and challenge infringers who might violate their marks.

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