SALT LAKE CITY (CN) - A private trademark-monitoring service dupes clients by using a "misleading" name to impersonate a federal agency, a Utah law firm claims in Federal Court.
Bateman IP Law Group says it and its clients have been pestered with demands from a Los Angeles-based company called the United States Trademark Registration Office.
Hoping to appear like the Patent and Trademark Office, an agency of the Department of Commerce based in Alexandria, Va., USTRO mails demands for a trademark "processing fee" to unsuspecting trademark holders, according to the complaint.
The letters allegedly use a combination of bar codes, reference numbers, and references to federal law and government agencies to simulate official government correspondence.
"On information and belief, USTRO makes all its profits from collecting fees that these letters seek," Bateman claims.
"USTRO offers services monitoring trademarks to determine if potentially inflicting trademarks have been filed," the 12-page complaint states.
Bateman says the company contacted it about its various trademarks, including "The Most Important Asset is Your Creativity" and "I Create." Bateman's clients allegedly received similar letters about their marks.
"The letter purports to be an 'Important Notification Regarding Your Federal Trademark,'" according to the complaint. "The letter solicits a payment, purporting to be a 'processing fee' of $375 that is 'Now Due.' The letter includes the name of the trademark at issue, its serial and registration number, a reference code, and several references to sections of the United States Code concerning trademark law."
The letters also contained a "warning statement" threatening cancellation of trademarks if documents requested by the monitoring service were not filed accordingly, Bateman says.
Convinced that the letter was a legitimate demand from the government, one client allegedly told Bateman that he had already drafted a check.
"Defendants, in the course of their business, represented that their services have sponsorship and/or approval from the United States government that defendants do not have," the complaint states.
Bateman seeks treble damages and an injunction against United States Trademark Registration Office and its as-yet unidentified executive for civil conspiracy, tortious interference and violations of the Utah Truth in Advertising Act. It is represented by Randall Bateman.
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