Look up an attorney's disciplinary record for Amazon Brand Registry

Look up an attorney's disciplinary record for Amazon Brand Registry

  • 12 June, 2024
  • Nyall Engfield

Look up an attorney's disciplinary record for Amazon Brand Registry

Amazon has been cracking down on trademark lawyer representation, preferring its own curated list of vendors (under the IP Accelerator Program). One problem with the IP Accelerator firms is that they are extremely expensive and, according to some accounts, may provide less than stellar service.

It's been speculated that Amazon wants to move into the trademark space as well, and that is why they are restricting the service providers that they accept.

When registering trademarks in Seller Central on Amazon, a seller may receive the following Amazon Brand Registry error in an email.

Your trademark application appears to be filed by a filing firm that may be violating US federal regulations and USPTO rules (explained below). If you are enrolling with a US trademark, please note that the USPTO requires foreign domiciled applicants or registrants to be represented by a U.S. licensed attorney (https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/basics/why-hire-private-trademark-attorney). This rule (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/07/02/2019-14087/requirement-of-us-licensed-attorney-for-foreign-trademark-applicants-and-registrants) was designed to improve the quality of trademark submissions by U.S. attorneys who are bound by ethical rules to follow the USPTO rules of professional conduct (https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/laws) and their state bar codes of conduct.

If you are concerned about the validity of your application or the conduct of any of the entities involved in your application, consult with a private U.S. attorney who is knowledgeable about trademark law (and not connected to any entity listed on the Order for Sanctions (https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/protect/decisions-and-proceedings-search-tool) or Potentially Misleading Solicitations webpage (https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/protect/caution-misleading-notices) to evaluate your application.

USPTO Sanctions Tool - Attorney

You can search your attorney's disciplinary history in the Decisions and Proceedings Search. Input the attorney's name in the search bar in the center. The search tool will provide all results that contain that name. You can read the decisions by clicking on the hyperlink on the right, to the document.

USPTO Practitioner Lookup

The USPTO maintains a web portal on how to find a trademark practitioner. US Licensed Attorneys do not need to apply for registration to practice in trademark matters before the USPTO. Instead, the USPTO relies on the State Bar Associations to monitor and discipline attorneys.

State Bar - Attorney Discipline

There are a few key reasons why state bar associations make the disciplinary records of attorneys publicly available:

Consumer protection - The disciplinary process exists to protect the public from unethical or incompetent lawyers. Making disciplinary records public allows consumers to research an attorney's background before hiring them and avoid those with a history of misconduct.

  • Transparency - Historically, lawyer discipline was not very transparent to the public. The 1970 Clark Report criticized the lack of openness in the disciplinary process.
  • Publishing disciplinary records makes the process more transparent and accountable to the public the bar is meant to serve.
  • Maintaining standards of the profession - The legal profession is largely self-regulating. Publicizing disciplinary actions taken against lawyers who violate ethical rules or the law sends a message that the bar is committed to upholding high professional standards.
  • Public confidence in the legal system - Openly addressing attorney misconduct through public disciplinary records can help maintain the public's faith that the legal profession takes ethics seriously and deals appropriately with bad actors.
  • Secrecy could undermine confidence.
  • Useful tool for the public - Many state bars include a lawyer's disciplinary history in their online directories as a resource for the public.
  • So in summary, while disciplinary actions may be embarrassing for the attorneys involved, state bars prioritize the public's right to know about misconduct over protecting lawyers' reputations. Transparency, consumer protection, and upholding the integrity of the legal profession are the main drivers behind this policy.

    Searching an attorney's disciplinary history

    On the front page of the Bar website there is a search field (example from the California State Bar at www.calbar.ca.gov below):

    Simply input the name of the attorney and you can view the disciplinary history.

    Misleading Scam Notices

    There are several types of misleading notices and scams that target trademark applicants and registrants:

    False solicitations claiming a third party is trying to register the same or similar trademark. These notices, purportedly from law firms, falsely state that another company is attempting to register the recipient's trademark and that urgent action is needed to avoid losing rights. They aim to scare trademark owners into responding or paying unnecessary fees.

  • Notices impersonating official government agencies like the USPTO. These solicitations use names similar to the USPTO or official-looking letterhead to demand payment for trademark monitoring services, renewals, recordations, or inclusion in private registries. They often charge inflated fees for services not required by the USPTO.
  • Unsolicited offers for legal services from entities misrepresenting themselves as law firms. These notices offer suspiciously low-cost trademark services but are not from legitimate, qualified attorneys. They may use the recipient's trademark details from the public USPTO database to appear credible.
  • Fraudulent renewal notices sent prematurely to mislead registrants. These are sent by private companies far in advance of the actual USPTO renewal deadline, hoping the registrant will pay the scammer instead of their own attorney who normally handles renewals.
  • Notices with false claims of "conflicting trademarks" or the need to take immediate action to avoid losing trademark rights. These use deceptive wording and threats of legal action to create a false sense of urgency and trick recipients into paying unnecessary fees to the scammer.

    The prevalence of these misleading notices has increased significantly in recent years as scammers exploit publicly available data in the USPTO trademark database. They can be very convincing, often using official-sounding names and citing actual application/registration numbers. To avoid being misled, trademark applicants and registrants should carefully review any notices for signs of a scam - suspicious wording, requests for fees not required by the USPTO, a non-USPTO email/web address, or pressure to act urgently. Legitimate correspondence will come from an "@uspto.gov" email address. When in doubt, recipients should contact their attorney or the USPTO directly rather than responding to the notice

    Examples of Misleading Scam Notices

    An example of a misleading notice from WTP Trademark Publication for $1420.00

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