19 January 2013

Scams – a Timely Reminder

Warning -chainsThe latest (13 January 2013) issue of WIPO’s PCT Newsletter (which can always be found here in HTML format, with back issues available here in PDF format) includes a timely reminder about unofficial requests for payment of fees, otherwise known as IP registration scams.

It has been a while since we have reminded readers about patent application registration scams.  Only slightly more recently, we reported on the rise of trade mark renewal ‘services’, which send unsolicited letters to trade mark owners offering to pay upcoming renewal fees for a not-so-modest commission.

Clearly, the trade mark renewal services are still operating, no doubt with some success.  We recently handled a phone enquiry from a client who had received a notice from the company calling itself Patent & Trademark Organisation offering to pay the renewal on a trade mark that was not due for 18 months!  That is certainly getting in early, since it is not even possible to pay the renewal fee until 12 months prior to the current expiry date.  Of course, an organisation sending unsolicited offers to pay renewal fees needs to make sure they get in ahead of the owner’s existing service providers!

Additionally, we received a new comment on our earlier post just this month, from somebody who had unfortunately been taken in by a renewal service letter, as well as one back in December 2012 from somebody else who was not.

The message on trade mark renewal scams is that there are still around, so there are almost certainly people keeping them in business.  They are still charging substantially more than many full-service patent and trade marks attorney firms, without providing any of the additional services, such as maintaining records of the registration details, and acting as the address for legal service on behalf of the trade mark owner throughout the ten-year period between renewals.  All they have to do is search the online records for trade marks that are due to expire in the near future.

As for the latest patent registration scam reported by WIPO, it comes from past repeat offender WIPT s.r.o., which runs a vaguely official-looking site at www.wipt.biz.  The latest innovation appears to be this rather cheeky ‘warning’:

WARNING: Request for payment of fees
It has come to the attention of WIPT that patents owners are receiving invitations to pay fees that do not come from WIPT – Register of International Patents and are unrelated to the processing of our services.  They bear no connection to WIPT Patent Database.

No kidding!

So be careful out there, folks.  There are unscrupulous people looking to take your money, and whatever you might think of the fees charged by your patent or trade marks attorney, at least they are actually providing services and advice to earn them!  These scammers are doing nothing more costly than looking you up on publicly available databases, and sending you a letter.

Image Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos


JohnMacPhail said...

Actually Mark I heard (from someone who got caught) that they take your money AND then they don't even bother to do the renewal! So you're out of pocket the whole $1800 or so.

Mark Summerfield said...

Thanks John - that's disturbing, if not entirely surprising. But it may be a comfort to those victims who have signed and returned order letters, without yet paying any money. Not much chance the scammer will actually render a service and then insist on payment!

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