Watch out for fake IP invoices and misleading patent and trademark offers 

By Frouke Hekker,

If you receive an invoice or special offer from a company you do not know, there is a risk it could be a scam. A growing number of dishonest companies are sending out fake invoices and misleading offers hoping to catch patent and trademark owners unaware. 

We have become increasingly alert to phishing emails and scam texts. But, did you know that IP owners are also being sent fake invoices demanding inflated payments, as well as 'special offers' relating to non-existent or unnecessary services?

Unfortunately, the volume of such dishonest practices is only increasing in our sector. If a company you do not recognise asks for any payments relating to your IP rights, please check with your patent or trademark attorney before making any payments. 

Beware of the following IP scams

The most common variants are as follows:

  • Payment requests from third parties attempting to pass as an official IP organisation

Watch out for logos of official bodies reproduced (sometimes in a slightly modified form) on any document asking for payment to obtain, maintain and/or publish an IP right. The account number on such a letter is likely to belong to an unauthorised third party seeking to scam IP rights holders into making payments. Also, watch out for phone calls from companies asking for payments to 'secure' domain names and other assets. 

If Novagraaf manages your IP rights, it is unlikely that you will be approached directly by any official body. If you receive an offer by telephone, we advise you not to accept it and to end the conversation immediately. Be sure not to provide any personal or company details.

  • Correspondence from official-looking registries that don't actually exist

Another common variant involves rogue parties that seek to give the impression that they are an official body and invite IP rights holders by letter, email, fax or telephone to make payments to obtain, maintain and/or publish an IP right. As such registries are not official IP registries, the requested agreement and/or payment does not create any right and serves no purpose.

If you are approached by an unofficial body, please ignore their demand and under no circumstances make any payments.

  1. Contracts disguised as IP invoices:

At first inspection, the correspondence may resemble an invoice but, on a closer look, it is really an offer to enter into an agreement. When such an invoice is paid, it enters the payee into an agreement for certain (unnecessary) services, often in return for ongoing payment of a considerable fee.

Please ignore such invoices and under no circumstances make any payments.

If you are approached by any company about IP services and have doubts about the reliability or relevance of the offer or the document received, please check with your Novagraaf attorney or contact us below. 

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