Creators in California rely on registration of patents and trademarks through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to establish their ownership of valuable intellectual property. Stakeholders often use the Trademark Electronic Application System to send in their applications, but a small portion of active applications and registrations have been compromised. The USPTO has issued an alert to warn people about entities making unauthorized changes to applications and registrations. Their goal appears to be switching registration to third-party brand registries.

The alert informed people to pay close attention to emails from the agency. All changes to electronic records trigger automated emails. Stakeholders should carefully check all such correspondence to confirm whether the change was authorized or not.

Unauthorized activity should be reported to the agency as soon as possible. A person or company should email the original automated message to [email protected] The email needs to provide contact information, the application serial or registration number and all other pertinent information.

Vigilance is appropriate at all stages of the registration process for a patent or trademark. The representation of an attorney might help a person navigate the details of preparing an application and defending ownership in the years that follow. In addition to managing the registration of intellectual property, an attorney might advise a person about how to create licensing agreements, respond to accusations of infringement or hold infringing parties responsible for damages. To protect a person’s position, an attorney may organize documentation that shows the person’s ownership of the intellectual property. Sometimes, an attorney is able to help resolve a problem through private discussions with the opposing party, but trademark infringement litigation might be necessary in particularly contentious or high-value cases. An attorney may prepare arguments to use in court and present evidence in order to undermine the opponent’s claims.