The Latvian citizen behind the fraudulent operations of “Patent and Trademark Office, LLC” and “Patent and Trademark Bureau, LLC”, Viktors Suhorukovs, was sentenced to 52 months in federal prison and ordered to pay over $4.5 million in restitution by United States District Judge Donald C. Coggins, Jr. for the District of South Carolina. Earlier this year, on January 12, 2021, Suhorukovs pled guilty to four counts of mail fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 1341.
Trademark owners and/or their attorneys may be familiar with renewal notices that come through by mail from the “Patent and Trademark Office” or the “Patent and Trademark Bureau” reminding them of an upcoming renewal, quoting renewal costs, and requesting that fees be made payable to the sender. Not only do these renewal notices misrepresent the trademark registration expiration dates, but they contain a QR code that links to the official United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. The companies from which the notices are sent bear names that closely resemble the official “United States Patent and Trademark Office,” which has misled many unknowing trademark owners to believe they are dealing with the official government agency and unwittingly send the requested payments back to Suhorukovs’ companies. This scheme has been taking place for almost three years, has defrauded over 2,900 victims (at least that have been identified), and has resulted in millions of dollars of stolen funds.
To read the official statement released by the United States Department of Justice, visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-sc/pr/latvian-national-sentenced-more-4-years-federal-prison-ordered-pay-over-45m-restitution
To read the USPTO’s guide to increase scam awareness, visit https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/protect/scam-awareness
See below for an example of a scam renewal notice sent by “Patent and Trademark Bureau”:
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