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The Growing Problem of Trademark Registration and Domain Name Scams

By Michael R. Graham of Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP

Michael R. Graham is a partner with Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP. He provides clients with counsel to advance and protect their trademark, copyright and other commercial and creative intellectual property rights. He can be reached at 312.474.6616,

Trademark owners need to be aware that their registration of trademarks may make them the target of scammers seeking to profit from the owners' desire to protect their trademarks. Transparency and searchability -- two of the most important features of national trademark office registries -- are leading to an increased number of scams. Trademark owners need to remain alert to unsolicited offers to renew or register their trademarks, and to register their trademarks as domain names.

When a company applies to register its trademark with a national trademark office, the data becomes publicly available. Making these records public is essential to enable companies to search these records to ensure that new marks that they propose to use are not already registered or similar to registered marks. However, a number of unscrupulous companies mine the registration data in order to besiege trademark owners with confusing mailings that can lead the owners to paying unnecessary fees for sham registrations, foregoing important services from legitimate service provid...

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