Have you received a unsolicited trade mark registration or renewal letter for a large sum of money? You may be a target of a trademark scam. Before you even consider paying the fee, contact your trade mark attorney or lawyer to confirm whether you have received bona fide correspondence. It is more than likely this it is not a legitimate invoice if you do not recognise the sender and has no connection with IP Australia.
How to Recognise a Trademark Scam
There are a number of factors to look for if you think you may have received a fraudulent notice or invoice. Here are a few red flags:
- The invoice is asking for a substantial amount of money in order to register or renew your IP right. The amount of money generally asked for is around $1000.
- The invoice may be asking to publish your patent or trade mark internationally or provide a trade mark monitoring service. This is not an official service provided by IP Australia or any relevant authorities.
- The invoice is sent from an overseas organisation or business that does not relate to your trade mark lawyer or IP Australia. Examples of unsolicited request have been known to come from senders such as IP Data s.r.o (Czech Republic), TM Worldwide (Hungary) and International Patent and Trademark Register based in Nurnberg, Germany.
Once it is evident that you have received an unsolicited request, ignore the correspondence and do not pay the invoice or provide any further personal details! These fraudulent invoices are not related to any international government organisations or institutions, and it is important not to pay their fees. If you have applied for an international trade mark, it is still important to be cautious and wary of any sender. Do not request further information from the sender as this may indicate to the sender you may potentially pay the invoice and they will continue sending letters.
Why is this occurring?
When applying for an IP right such as a trade mark, IP Australia publishes personal information online. This disclosure includes your name, address and trade mark information (the Trade Mark and classes that you are applying for). Unfortunately, this information is publicly accessible to individuals all over the world. The subsequent problem is that opportunistic scammers use that information to send unofficial invoice and letters. Under the Privacy Act, IP Australia is not accountable for any fraudulent or unsolicited contact who target you, as this information is publically available.
You can report the Scam to IP Australia by emailing a copy of the invoice or alternatively report a scam with the ACCC SCAMWATCH. Contact our trade mark lawyers to determine whether you have received a legitimate IP notice.