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IP Scams: Trade Mark Owners Beware

A trade mark can be a very important and valuable business asset. However, if you own a trade mark, or have received approval from IP Australia to register your trade mark, you may be targeted by companies attempting to induce you to pay invoices for thousands of dollars for unsolicited services relating to your trade mark and/or domain name.
These companies are usually based overseas, and offer fraudulent protection of your intellectual property, such as through promotional and advertising services or registration and maintenance of your trade mark and/or domain name. These invoices 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.
Often, it will not be immediately obvious that these invoices are fraudulent, as they sometimes appear to be somewhat “official” and “authentic” (view WIPO’s updated list of examples). Further, the scamming companies often use confusingly similar names to genuine intellectual property organisations, such as “European Institute for Economy and Commerce” or “Patent and Trademark Organization LLC” (view IP Australia’s known list of IP scammers).
Unfortunately, in many businesses, these invoices are received by accounting departments, which may be unaware that the invoices are for unsolicited services, and consequently, lose thousands of dollars. Scamming companies take advantage of those who are careless or ill-informed. If you receive an unsolicited invoice in relation to your intellectual property, we recommend that you do not pay the invoice and contact us immediately to review the invoice and confirm that it is fraudulent.
We ask that you keep vigilant and treat any letter and/or invoice, which you receive from unfamiliar organisations, with caution.