Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Trade mark registration scams

Sending documents that are not invoices, but look very much like them, demanding payment for vaguely-described services, is nothing new. When I worked for the Confederation of British Industry in the mid-eighties, there were several bogus directory publishers (some who even produced a spurious directory from time to time) sending out these things. Now, the technique has been transferred to the world of trade marks.

A client has just asked me about a document - expressly calling itself a "solicitation" and not a request for payment - from an outfit called IBIP with an address in South Carolina. (The company quotes a phone/fax number, which in this day and age seems to me to speak volumes about the sort of set-up it must be.) They trawl trade mark office journals, and contact applicants (not representatives) offering an entry in some sort of database. The solicitation, and the terms and conditions, are written in terrible English which helps to make far from clear what it is all about.

The charge for whatever it is that is being sold is over $1500: these parasites are making more than professional representatives who actually bring something useful to the process of trade mark registration. I tell my clients that they need pay nothing to anyone except my firm, and they should ignore any demands for payment from any other party: but presumably people are still being caught out otherwise these scams would soon evaporate.

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