Owners of patent or design applications or registrations should be aware that there are bogus operators in existence who take the published details of such applications to send out invoices for unnecessary publications or fictitious services. The unsolicited materials from these organisations requesting payment of fees usually appear as a payment form or an invoice. The requests typically relate to payments for:
- Registration fees
- Renewal fees
- Publication in a directory or register
- Monitoring services
The unsolicited requests may appear to be legitimate as these unofficial organisations attempt convey the impression that they operate in some type of official capacity. In order to give the impression they are legitimate they often identify bibliographic details of the application or registration such as official number, title of the invention, priority information, publication number & date. They may even include a warning about other requests for payment.
A comprehensive list of unsolicited or fraudulent schemes, including examples of such invitations, can be viewed on the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) website. You can also find similar warnings on intellectual property office websites, for example: IP Australia, Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand, European Patent Office, United States Patent and Trademark Office and many more.
Of course, you may receive legitimate communications from an official intellectual property office from time to time. For example if you have a European patent, you will likely receive official correspondence if you have not elected a representative or recorded an address for service in a particular European country.
Please take caution in responding to any unsolicited request for payment of fees from an unfamiliar organisation. Usually official communications will be handled directly by your attorney and you will only receive correspondence through your attorney on their own letterhead. If you have any doubts about the requests for payment, please consult your patent attorney to seek clarification.