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Beware: Scams Involving Unofficial Payment Requests on the Rise

January 20, 2015

By Isi Caulder and Nicholas Aitken

Recently, there has been a reported increase in misleading requests for payment of so-called “publication” or “registration” fees from “official sounding” organizations in connection with patent, trademark or design applications (“Misleading Payment Request Scams”). These requests are designed to appear as official intellectual property office correspondence (e.g. using similar logos and names to official intellectual property offices) and are typically sent directly to applicants. Patent and trademark applicants should critically review any unsolicited request for payment of fees from an unfamiliar organization. 

Misleading Payment Request Scams target applicants through the use of applicant’s contact information contained in documents published on official websites.  Typically, the communication appears on its face to be a request for payment of registration fees, renewal fees, publication fees, or monitoring services. To enhance legitimacy, Misleading Payment Request Scams may even warn users of other scam requests for payment and/or include fine-print declaring that the instant document is not an official invoice but rather a contract for services.

Misleading Payment Request Scams often utilize names and logos which are confusingly similar to those of an official organization (e.g. CIPO, USPTO, WIPO). Known sham organizations that are reported to be sending Misleading Payment Requests are listed below.  This listing is not comprehensive and additional organizations are likely to emerge over time. 

Euro IP Register
European Central Register of Brands and Patents
FOIP - Federated Organization for Intellectual Property
IBFTPR - International Bureau for Federated Trademark & Patent Register
IOIP - International Organization for Intellectual Property
IOPR - Intellectual Office Property Register
IP DATA - Register of International Patents
IPT PATENTS - Register of International Patents
IPTR - International Patent and Trademark Register
IPTS - International Patent and Trademark Service
Novislink limited
ODM – Office Data Management
REGIPAT - European Register of Brands and Patents
RIPT - Registration of International Patent
TPS - Trademark and Patent Service
UPTS - Universal Patents and Trademarks Service
WBIP - World Bureau for Intellectual Property
WDTP - Worldwide Database of Trademarks and Patents
WIPT
WPTI - World Patent and Trademark Index


Typically official communications including invoices are sent directly to patent or trademark agent representatives and not directly to applicants.  Accordingly, applicants that receive a request for payment of fees from an unfamiliar organization are encouraged to contact their patent, trademark or design agent representative immediately to confirm the authenticity of the request.  

For examples of Misleading Payment Requests, see postings by WIPO here, and by the USPTO here.  WIPO encourages recipients to report new examples to pct.legal@wipo.int for patents, or to intreg.mail@wipo.int for trade marks.  The USPTO encourages recipients to file an on-line consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.

Content shared on Bereskin & Parr’s website is for information purposes only. It should not be taken as legal or professional advice. To obtain such advice, please contact a Bereskin & Parr LLP professional. We will be pleased to help you.

Author(s):

Isi Caulder Isi Caulder
B.A.Sc. (Eng. Sci.), M.A.Sc. (Elec. Eng.), J.D.
Partner
416.957.1680  email Isi Caulder
Nicholas Aitken Nicholas Aitken
B.A.Sc. (Mech. Eng.)(Hons.), J.D.
Counsel
416.957.1620  email Nicholas Aitken