Settlement reached in trademark caseMay 08,2013Staff Report
MONTPELIER - The Vermont Attorney General’s Office has reached a settlement with Trademark Monitoring Services Inc. of California, for mailing solicitations that misrepresented that businesses owed it money for trademark-related services.
Under the settlement, TMS must strictly comply with Vermont and federal law regulating through-the mail offers, pay full refunds to the businesses that sent it money, and pay $10,000 to the state in penalties and costs.
The Attorney General’s office has received a number of complaints from individuals and businesses concerning unauthorized billings by out-of-state companies.
TMS offers services such as monitoring trademarks and service mark registrations and searching for similar trademarks. The cost of these services ranged from $485 to $1,285 per year.
The company sent mailings to 18 Vermont businesses, resulting in payments by three of them, two of which stopped payment on their checks. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the Attorney General’s office concluded that the mailings misrepresented that businesses owed it money.
In addition, TMS’ mailings did not contain as prominent a disclaimer as required by the U.S. Postal Service for through-the-mail solicitations that could reasonably be considered a bill, invoice or statement of account due.
According to the state, these practices violated the Vermont Consumer Protection Act’s prohibition on unfair and deceptive acts and practices in commerce.
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