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Williams Intellectual Property Wins Over $114,000 Judgment Against Trademark Scammer

Updated: 3 days ago

OAKLAND, CA – Lawyers at Williams Intellectual Property won $100,000 in punitive damages against Pinnacle Trademark for its online trademark scam.

Pinnacle Trademark represents itself as a trademark firm. Instead, it’s a front for an international corrupt organization designed to defraud the American public.

Pinnacle Trademark represents itself online as a California company competent to file trademark applications at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The company lists its address in Oakland, CA. Even though this address shows up on Google maps as a verified address, the address is not real.

The company carries on trade as if it were in the U.S. On the surface, everything appears legitimate: address, email extensions, 1-800 numbers, direct lines with the correct area code and nested extensions. A cursory check wouldn’t necessarily raise a red flag: their website is clean and well designed. Online reviews by happy customers suggest good service. It looks professional. It looks real. But it’s not legitimate. It’s a scam.  

Whoever they are, they are technologically sophisticated. Not only is their online footprint professional in appearance, they use offshore hosting in countries outside U.S. jurisdiction (while floating U.S. IP addresses to invent “local” points of presence). Voice-over-internet-protocol phones appear to originate from Oakland but are in fact based overseas: perhaps Dubai, the Philippines, Pakistan – it’s impossible to know.

The scam is sophisticated, too. Posing as licensed U.S. trademark attorneys, Pinnacle staff con customers into disclosing sensitive information about themselves, such as passport and driver’s license data, and exact nonexistent and exorbitant fees. They abuse the complexity of trademark law to bamboozle customers, often defrauding them of tens of thousands of dollars. (On average, a trademark registration should cost around $1,000.)

Essentially, they file trademark applications at the USPTO as if the customer had filed pro se but insert a bogus email address into the contact field to redirect and control communication with the Patent and Trademark Office. That way, they receive all electronic communications from the Examining Attorney at the Patent and Trademark Office, which they can misrepresent to the consumer, while everything on file relates back to the consumer. Only an email address links to Pinnacle. And that email is fabricated as part of a domain hosted privately outside U.S. jurisdiction.

In general, it takes months to get a trademark registered. It can take years. During pendency of the registration, Pinnacle leverages misinformation about trademark procedure and the Lanham Act to con clients into paying more fake fees, dribbling out cash across the course of months. Sometimes these “fees” are thousands of dollars. They abuse government process – and the trust naturally imputed to an attorney-client relationship – to collect material information about their customers, which they probably sell on the dark web. Everything: social security number, credit card information, passport and driver’s license data, all the stuff that a reasonable person might think the government requires in substantiating grounds to register a trademark. (You don’t need to disclose any of those things.)

They know enough about fling trademarks to exploit these loopholes, and to sound like they know what they’re talking about. But they don’t – and they don’t care. By the time the customer finds out what has happened, it’s usually too late. Worse, if the trademark registers at all, it probably won’t register in a way the reflects the interests the customer maintains in use of the mark. The customer (typically a start-up, closely held organization or individual looking to start a home business) is left with nothing, and the money is gone.

They employ multiple sites and multiple domains, across industries, to widen their reach. Multiple funnels and elegant cross-branding that interact to trick customers nationwide. There’s a whole slew of these sites out there, acting in concert to suck money out of the U.S. economy. They appear to be in partnership with “graphic design firms,” for example, other sites that offer logo design services (some of which employ widgets, so you effectively design the logo yourself) or start-up services. These sites then refer their customers to one of the “trademark” companies. Operating as such, there are potentially scores of design sites and start-up sites positioned to feed Pinnacle Trademark and its ilk.

The size of the scam is alarming. The level of sophistication and the overall size of the fraud hints at more than just thieves – perhaps a belligerent state actor. These guys are professionals. Or, worse, they are working for a corrupt state to harm the United States. This is not just a scam on the U.S. public. It’s an attack on U.S. sovereignty. In the aggregate, when millions of dollars are hoovered out of the U.S. and disappear overseas, the harm is not just individual. It’s national. It’s a form of economic warfare – one that will only get worse with the abuse of artificial intelligence to consolidate the fraud ingeniously.

When Candy Portugal came to Williams Intellectual Property because something just didn’t feel right, she managed to stop the scammers in their tracks. After more than a year of litigation (in which Pinnacle failed to make an appearance), default judgment was entered in favor of Mrs. Portugal. She got her money back.

Others, though, have not been so lucky.

If you think you've been a victim of a similar scam, call us today. We might be able to get your money back.

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