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USPTO Order to Show Cause Against Trademark Filing Entities

Posted by Thomas P. Howard | Nov 16, 2021 | 0 Comments

By James Juo.

There have been increasing concerns about low-cost trademark filing entities such as Trademark Terminal, ranging from providing incorrect application information to charging inflated filing fees. Moreover, such companies often are based overseas despite claiming to be based in the United States.

For example, Trademark Terminal claims to be based in Los Angeles, California, and pledges to “register” a trademark “for only $99” in “as little as 7 minutes.” This too-good-to-be-true offer appears to have been popular with small business owners and individuals. Thousands of trademark applications have been filed by Trademark Terminal and related filing agencies on behalf of such clients with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) recently. But Trademark Terminal appears to be signing documents posing as the pro se filer applicants, creating emails based out of a free Russia email platform for each applicant in order to avoid the USPTO's licensed representation rules, and communicating with trademark examiners on legal issues concerning each application without the applicant's knowledge and consent.

On November 3, 2021, the USPTO issued an order to show cause against Abtach Ltd., the Pakistan-based operator of numerous low-cost filing entities including Trademark Terminal. The show-cause order identifies “the unincorporated entities known as BrandMarkly, Trademark 999, Trademark Axis, Trademark Eminent, Trademark Excel, Trademark Falcon, Trademark Fusion, Trademark Kingdom, Trademark Nation, Trademark Regal, Trademark Profs, Trademark Target, Trademark Terminal, US Trademark Pros, and US Trademark Solutions” as being operated and controlled by Abtach, Ltd., Retrocube LLC, or 360 Digital Marketing LLC. The websites for these filing entities “are all strikingly similar and offer the same services for the same standardized pricing, featuring many of the same images, the same Zendesk-powered chatbot, and nearly identical Terms of Use, Frequently Asked Questions, and general descriptions of services” for trademark filings.

The USPTO show-cause order states that trademark filings were submitted “from IP addresses corresponding to an internet service provider in Karachi, Pakistan”; and that Abtach engaged in “an egregious scheme to deceive and defraud applicants for federal trademark registrations by improperly altering official USPTO correspondence, overcharging application filing fees, misappropriating the USPTO's trademarks, and impersonating the USPTO.”

Abtach would “tout falsely low fees (staring at $99) and timeframes (7 minutes) to register a trademark”; and then overcharge the applicants and “pressure them into paying for unnecessary services.”

In one example, Trademark Terminal generated a false “invoice” with an inflated “USPTO FILING FEE” of $776 (one indication this fee is false is that all USPTO filing fees are divisible by 5). This appears to be “standard business practice” among Abtach's operations.

Concluding that Abtach's operators “are engaged in a continuing pattern of knowingly making false material representations of fact in connection with applications to register marks with an intent to deceive the USPTO”; the USPTO proposes sanctions such as:

  • permanently precluding Abtach from submitting trademark-related documents to the USPTO;
  • removing correspondence information associated with Abtach from the USPTO's database in all trademark applications and/or registrations in which such information appears;
  • striking all trademark-related documents submitted to the USPTO by Abtach;
  • terminating all ongoing proceedings containing submissions filed by Abtach;
  • permanently terminating or deactivating any accounts in which contact information related to Abtach appear and taking all reasonable efforts to prevent the creation of further accounts; and/or
  • continuing to strike documents, remove information, deactivate accounts, and terminate proceedings containing submissions that are later found to have been filed by Abtach.

The USPTO also may take immediate mitigation actions, including suspending further action in impacted applications and/or restricting access to accounts associated with  Abtach.

Unfortunately, many of those who used one of Abtach's low-cost trademark filing entities may still be unaware of the fraudulent activities because many of the applications filed by Abtach on their behalf do not include the applicant's correct contact information. Thousands of trademark applications filed by entities allegedly operated by Abtach are listed in Exhibit A of the show-cause order (the list is not necessarily exhaustive).

If the USPTO precludes submissions in connection with a trademark application, the USPTO webpage at “Applicants and registrants represented by excluded parties” provides information on what can be done.

The trademark attorneys at Thomas P. Howard, LLC are experienced in properly prosecuting trademark applications with the USPTO to obtain meaningful trademark protection for your business.

About the Author

Thomas P. Howard

Thomas Howard is an experienced trial lawyer that handles intellectual property litigation nationwide, including copyright, trademark, trade secret and patent litigation, as well as complex civil litigation, including breach of contract, interference with contract, breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy, fraud and fraudulent transfer of assets.


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