We are all now very used to receiving spam emails on a wide range of topics from time sensitive amazing business opportunities, SEO, inheritance, marriage proposals and pharmaceutical performance enhancers. If they have not already been caught by your spam filter, you can usually glean the scam without even opening the email.
A long standing scam in the TradeMark world, which is in fact increasing, is the scam invoice. The large number and longevity of these scams suggest that they certainly have a reasonable success rate.
The TradeMark scam is typically initiated just after you have received the positive news that your trade mark application is accepted for registration. You are aware from the TradeMarks Office or your TradeMarks Attorney that some sort of advertisement has to happen and that you are on the home stretch to securing registration.
Scams, Shams, Spam Unsolicited TradeMark Services + Invoices
Then you receive an unsolicited letter and / or invoice. It looks authentic with a name that sounds a lot like a government or official body. The correspondence may:
Be an invoice for “registration” / “renewal”.
Request that you pay fees in order for the mark to be “published” in the official sounding international publication.
The documentation is carefully crafted to appear authentic. It looks official, is sent by mail to your correct address (sourced from official publications), and arrives at a time when you anticipate further payment / advertisement is required. Further, you may be aware that intellectual property rights are often administered by international bodies located in cities like Geneva, Alicante and that there are intellectual property international treaties formed in cities such as Paris, Madrid, Budapest, Rome, the Hague and Nice. Therefore, the international nature of the documentation generally feels kosher.
Intellectual Property Offices around the world regularly issue warnings in connection with the offered services.
IP Australia currently lists the following known suspects on its website:
Scams shut down, start up and change names. Therefore, the list is not definitive.
You should completely disregard unsolicited correspondence and pay nothing.
If you are feeling unsure, call your trusted TradeMark attorney or the body administering registration of your TradeMark.