IP registrants should be wary of receiving unsolicited offers via email, mail or phone from illegitimate companies posing as legitimate companies offering to protect their intellectual property (IP) for a fee. These unsolicited and fraudulent scams are generally marketed in a way to offer protection, promotion, enforcement or advertising services and appear on the surface to be from legitimate companies. As the contact information for IP registrants is public (as required by law), these scammers operate and make financial gain on mass sendouts of email and mail. At LegalVision, our IP lawyers are often contacted by IP holders who have received such correspondence in relation to their IP. We can assist you in determining the legitimacy of such letters and emails.

Intellectual Property Scams

If there is a fee demanded in return for an IP related service, registrants should carefully review what the service will provide, and whether the company is reputable and legitimate. Whilst many Australian companies do offer legitimate services in registration, maintenance, promotion and advertising, registrants should be cautious if an offer is unsolicited and an invoice is not from a company that the registrant has dealt with in the past. If in doubt, contact IP Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) or the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). The latter two organisations have the power to act on scams and report companies to the Department of Fair Trading in the respective state.

Illegitimate registrants may also pose as government agencies or non-profit organisations. Complete with letterheads and spoofed email addresses, these institutions may appear legitimate at first, however, further investigation will reveal these are actual scammers. The ACCC has a SCAMwatch tool to help consumers and businesses identify, avoid and report scams.

Overseas Registers

With the contact information for every Australian trade mark, patent and design readily accessible by the public and anyone with an Internet connection, overseas organisations also prey on unsuspecting IP registrants.

Generally in the form of a physical letter at the registrant’s registered address of business, these letters will often request payment for unsolicited services that have already been completed, or need to be completed in the near future. These include the registration or renewal of IP rights for a fee, publishing IP in an international publication or register for protection or providing an on-going monitoring service for the registered IP. These letters can be reported to IP Australia.

Conclusion

IP registrants should conduct due diligence when receiving correspondence from sources they have not dealt with in the past to avoid scams and illegitimate claims made by fictitious companies. Our team of intellectual property lawyers can assist you in protecting your IP and clarifying whether a letter you have received is legitimate or not. Contact us on 1300 544 755 to know more about the IP services we offer, including registration, monitoring and enforcement.

Lachlan McKnight

Next Steps

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