We all know the value of registering a trade mark. However, if you own a trade mark or have made an application, you may be targeted by scammers invoicing you for unsolicited services relating to your trade mark and/or domain name. Communications received from unfamiliar organisations, especially letters requesting payment for unsolicited services, should be treated with caution.

Scams of this type are becoming increasingly common on a global scale.

Both IP Australia and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) have issued warnings to look out for invoices for fees that do not come from the International Bureau of WIPO and are unrelated to the processing of international applications under the Madrid Agreement.

The notices are typically issued by organisations claiming to be trade mark bodies such as “Patent and Trademark Organisation LLC” (based in USA with a Melbourne street address). These companies are generally based overseas, and fraudulently offer protection of your intellectual property, such as through promotional and advertising services or registration and maintenance of your trade mark and/or domain name. They may offer trade mark monitoring services, registration or renewal services in another country, or services to oppose a third party’s trade mark application on your behalf.

If POF has applied for trade mark protection in Australia on your behalf, our firm is recorded as your official Address for Service. This means we will receive all official correspondence from IP Australia in relation to your trade mark application and/ or registration and will contact you when it is time to renew your trade mark.

Each of the scam invoices appear official and it is not obvious they are fraudulent. Unfortunately, in many businesses, these invoices are received by accounting departments, which may be unaware that the invoices are for unsolicited services with the result that the business can lose thousands of dollars. Scamming companies take advantage of those who are not fully informed. If you receive an unsolicited invoice in relation to your intellectual property, we ask that you keep vigilant and treat any letter and/or invoice, from unfamiliar organisations, with caution.

For WIPO’s list of examples, visit: www.ipaustralia.gov.au/ip-infringement/unsolicitedip-services/