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 Trade Mark Scams

Trade Mark Scams

April 3, 2009

We are alarmed by the increasing number of scammers that target trade mark applicants in the UK and the EU.  Clearly some people are misled into paying the fees otherwise the scams would not continue as they do.

The scammers send unsolicited mail to new trade mark applicants with a document resembling an invoice, implying that fees are due for the application. What makes the scam even more deceptive is that the scammers use official government  body names to give the impression that the ‘invoice’ is legitimate, and that the fees are therefore due for payment.

The traditional scam used to occur once the applicant’s trade mark had reached publication, but a new style of scam has now come to our attention.  These scammers are targeting applicants immediately after their trade mark has been filed on paper – perhaps when the applicant is more likely to believe they will have to pay the fees. Where the applicant is represented by professional agents, the scammers cleverly direct their communication to the applicant.

The IPO and OHIM both warn on their websites of scams, but clearly these warnings have had little effect and the scammers are finding ever new inventive ways to deceive trade mark applicants.

Any trade mark applicant should check carefully before parting with any funds to ensure they do not become another victim of these scams and always speak to their professional advisers if they receive a suspicious and unsolicited invoice.

What is unclear is what the authorities are doing about it.