The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the official body that grants registered IP rights in the UK, has announced that it has succeeded in legal proceedings against two individuals who ran companies pretending to be the IPO. In May, the IPO issued passing off proceedings against Aleksandrs Radcuks and Igors Villers, the two individuals behind companies which traded as ‘Patent and Trade Mark Office’ and ‘Patent and Trade Mark Organisation’. The companies had issued official looking letters to holders of UK registered trade marks and patents offering to renew the rights in return for fees which were significantly higher than the genuine renewal fees charged by the IPO. Many recipients had been confused into thinking that the letters were from the IPO and had paid the inflated fees.
In its announcement, the IPO said that it knew some of its customers had “been misled into making excessive payments to these organisations because they thought they were paying the IPO for renewing the intellectual property rights. We therefore felt it was necessary to take appropriate action given the evidence that our customers are being misled or confused and that damage is being caused to the office’s good name”.
Radcuks and Villers are reported to have admitted and settled the IPO’s claims. They are now subject to a court order prohibiting them from any further acts of passing off and have paid a “substantial sum” to the IPO.
This is not an isolated incident. The IPO has acknowledged that similar proceedings are pending against at least one another organisation involved in similar activities. Owners of UK registered IP rights are advised to be wary and, on receipt of a renewal letter, to confirm that the sender is the genuine IPO before making any renewal payments.