Trade mark owners beware: unsolicited documents resembling invoices
The number of unsolicited documents offering what appears to be registration, renewal or monitoring services to trade mark owners has recently increased. Examples of such notices are below:
The most recent scheme is the notice shown on the left above from “Patent and Trademark Organisation of Level 28, 303 Collins Street, Melbourne, Australia”. Our investigations suggest that the entity responsible for this notice is based in the United States.
Do not pay the requested fees
These notices are either a scam or are unsolicited notices by entities with no connection to your company or its service providers. The unsolicited invoices and documents are typically sent after the acceptance of a trade mark application is advertised in the Australian Official Journal of Trade Marks or the WIPO Gazette of International Marks, or prior to the renewal date.
A trade mark registration in Australia can only be obtained by lodging an application with IP Australia. Registration fees for an Australian trade mark are paid only once by the person who filed the application. Renewal fees are paid to IP Australia every 10 years.
As IP Australia has noted:
“As a rule of thumb, letters from unfamiliar organisations, especially letters requesting payment for unsolicited services, should be treated with caution… in cases where the credibility of correspondence is questionable, it would be prudent to consult a professional advisor, such as a patent or trade mark attorney”.
If you receive unsolicited documents from any of the following sources, please disregard them:
- Patent & Trademark Organisation (based in USA not Melbourne)
- Globus Edition SL (based in Spain)
- TM – Collection (based in Hungary)
- Commercial Centre for Industry and Trade (based in Switzerland)
- Company of Economic Publications Ltd (based in Austria)
- Company for Publications and Information Anstalt (based in Liechtenstein)
- Edition The Marks KFT (based in Hungary)
- INFOCOM (based in Switzerland)
- Institute of Trade and Commerce (based in Switzerland)
- T & TAG (based in Switzerland)
- ZDR-Datenregister GmbH (based in Germany)
- United States Trademark Center (based in USA)
- F.I.P.T.R. (based in USA)
- TMP – Trade Mark Publishers (based in Sydney)
- I.B.F.T.P.R. – International Bureau for Federation Trademark & Patent Registrar
- RIPT – Register of International Patents and Trademarks
- Gaia Almanach LTD
- International Patent and Trademark Register (based in Nuremberg, Germany)
- TM Worldwide (based in Hungary)
The above list is not exhaustive and new entities are continually surfacing. Should you have any concerns, or want to check the legitimacy of the invoice, please contact your trade mark attorney or legal advisor.
Domain Name Scams
This is also a timely reminder that similar types of schemes have occurred in relation to overseas domain names. Typically an email claiming that a third party is going to register a domain name which is very similar to a company’s domain name is received. An example of such an email is above.
If you receive any such emails, please contact your professional advisor to determine whether the email amounts to a scam.
Canadian domain name phishing
Finally, we have received reports that the Canadian Domain Name Registry Authority (“CIRA”) has recently been hit by a spate of Internet fraud known as “phishing”. Canadian domain name holders have been receiving emails requesting credit card details and other personal information. The emails look legitimate as they contain pictures of CIRA’s website. It is possible that similar schemes could arise in other countries, including Australia.