We have recently been contacted by the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (“OHIM”) who are currently carrying out an investigation into the sending of misleading invoices for Trade Mark and Design services, filing fees and/or renewal fees. OHIM is the European Union agency responsible for managing the Community trade mark and the registered Community design.
OHIM, the Irish Patents Office (“IPO”), the European Patents Office (“EPO”) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation have long been aware that a number of schemes are being operated by parties claiming to be associated with those organisations. Such parties have engaged in solicitation scams seeking payments from rights holders. The communications often have names and logos that are similar to the relevant intellectual property organisations. Invoices will even list information relating to the particular trade mark holders that has been gleamed from publicly available registers. OHIM is working to reduce the instances of these solicitation scams and has published helpful guidance on its website.
As part of its on-going investigation, OHIM informed us that a number of trade mark holders in Ireland may have been contacted by these parties. We are assisting OHIM with its investigation on behalf of the affected trade mark holders.
If you have made a direct payment to an organisation claiming to be OHIM, or one of its international counterparts, following receipt of an invoice, you may have been the subject of a fraud.