This scam was done the old fashion way and brought in over $1.66 Million. Artashes Darbinyan and Orbel Hakobyan admitted to running a mass mailing scam through companies called Trademark Compliance Center(TCC) and Trademark Compliance Office (TCO). According to the Justice Department Website Link:
“The scam involved fraudulent offers of a service in which TCC and TCO promised to monitor an applicant’s trademark for infringing marks and to register the trademark with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which offers a real service that screens imports for possibly infringing trademarks. The offers were made via mail solicitations to applicants for U.S. trademarks for $385. Darbinyan never registered, nor ever intended to register, any of the trademarks with CBP for the customers who paid the fee.”
The United States Trademark and Patent Office (USPTO) worked closely with the Justice Department on this case. In their USPTO Web Page Link , The USPTO lays out the procedures that Owners of US Trademark applications should be aware of to prevent such a fraud in the future.
Attorneys have an ethical obligation to make sure that when assisting clients with Trademark applications that they properly vet any solicitation from a private company offering to assist in Trademark matters. Paying a fraudulent entity for USPTO fees could cause an unsuspecting attorney to miss USPTO deadlines. This could also subject the attorney to sanctions, bar complaints and attorney malpractice claims.