Important reminder for IP right holders: Watch out for misleading correspondence

By Frouke Hekker,

We regularly receive reports from customers that they are being approached by companies pretending to be official IP agencies. Here, we set out a number of common scams and a list of malicious parties to watch out for. Please do not make any payments to such parties and continue to forward any correspondence to us so that we can keep this list up-to-date.

Unfortunately, the number and types of scams targeting IP rights owners continue to grow. At present, there are various ways in which malicious parties are attempting to mislead IP registrants; in particular:

  • Urgent payment requests carrying the logos of official bodies (sometimes in a slightly modified form) without authorisation: Look out for any document requesting you to urgently make a payment in order to obtain, maintain and/or publish an IP right. The account number on such notifications does not belong to the official body but is instead a dishonest company that is trying to make money by devious means. As a general rule, if your IP rights are managed by Novagraaf, you will not be approached by any official bodies. However, if you do receive such a letter and you are unsure, please contact us before making any payments
     
  • Payment requests carrying the logo of a fake official body: This is a frequent variant of the above scam in which malicious parties seek to create the impression in a letter, email, fax or by telephone that they are an official body requiring ‘necessary’ payments to obtain, maintain and/or publish an IP right. The registries referred to are not official registries and therefore the requested agreement and/or payment does not create any right or serve any purpose. If you are approached by any company purporting to be an official body, please ignore it or check first with us. We advise you not to make any payments under any circumstances to such unofficial bodies.
     
  • Offers masquerading as invoices: Another common variation of the above practice is the sending of documents to businesses that appear to be invoices but, on closer inspection, are instead offers to enter into a contract. On payment of the invoice, an agreement appears to be entered into for certain (unnecessary) services, which in turn require payment of a significant sum of money. If you receive such an invoice, ignore it or check first with us. Once again, our advice is that you do not make any payments under any circumstances.

Names to beware

Here is a selection of parties known to us to have acted in the ways described above:

  • IRO – Warsaw, Poland 
  • WPTD  – Prague, Czech Republic
  • EIPA – Brussels, Belgium
  • EUIP – Geneva, Switzerland
  • INT-trademarks  – Hungary
  • World Patent & Trademark Agency – Brno, Czech Republic
  • CRTP – The Hague, The Netherlands
  • WIPOT – Vienna, Austria and Belgrade, Serbia
  • Patent and Trademark Office – Washington DC, USA

Other scams to avoid

  • Domain name industry scams: Malicious parties are also active in the domain name industry, often asking companies by telephone to ‘secure’ a domain name.  If you receive such an offer, we advise you not to accept it and to end the call immediately. Do not provide any personal or business details.

If you are approached by a company and have any doubts about the reliability or relevance of the offer/document received, please speak to your Novagraaf attorney or contact us in the first instance. We’d also ask you to share any correspondence you’ve received, so we can track and better understand which parties are active in this way.

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