Scams relating to patents and trade marks are a perennial problem, but we have seen a spate of them recently. If you are in any doubt about letters you receive asking for payment of registration or renewal fees, please contact us. If you send us a copy of the letter, then we will very quickly be able to advise if it is genuine.
These scams typically fall into two categories: patent application or trade mark registration scams and patent and trade mark renewal scams.
Registration scams arise because details of your application become public at some point after you apply. Scammers can easily get hold of these details and then send bogus invitations to the address on the patent or trade mark application, offering to register the application in a database for a fee. At first glance, these invitations can look convincing as official sounding names are used. A recent example of a registration scam comes from an organization called “World Bureau for Intellectual Property” inviting you to register your trade mark with them, with a large WARNING written across the middle.
There is of course no need to register your patent applications or trade mark applications in any database. And at the application stage, all official correspondence will be sent to your attorney.
Patent and trade mark renewal scams again rely on publically available information about when renewal fees are due on patents, patent applications and trade marks. Some letters you may receive are simply offers to pay a renewal fee that is due at an exorbitant price, others may be straightforward scams. A recent and widespread example comes from an organization called “Patent and Trademark Office”.
You should have arrangements in place for the payment of renewal fees with a reputable service provider and should not respond to any unsolicited approaches for payment of renewal fees. Again, if you are in any doubt about a letter you receive, or who should be reminding you about renewal fees, please contact us.
There are a number of public websites that provide further detail on known IP scams, such as Wikipedia’s page on scams in intellectual property.
This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking before any action in reliance on it.