If you’ve just registered your Trademark with IP Australia – beware. There’s a nasty little scam going around. You may receive a letter that looks like this:
This fake Trademark registration agency is trying to charge you 955 Euros to file your Trademark in Europe. The letter looks legit – it will have an image of your newly registered logo front and centre – and it will be a physical letter, not an email. We’re becoming conditioned not to trust all email, but physical mail is different. The letter will be addressed to you and your details will be correct and not part of a mass junk mail campaign.
This is one of many similar type scams. The IP Australia website lists 24 different fake Trademark registration agencies, in countries ranging from Germany to Liechtenstein, with official sounding names like: Intellectual Property Organisation, European Patent Office and Community Trademark Office. And the ACCC’s ScamWatch is also warning Australian businesses to beware fake invoices for domain name renewal, trade directory listing, advertising services, etc.
This practice is not limited to overseas organisations. Unfortunately some law firms in Australia are using publicly available information to send unsolicited letters and emails to Trademark applicants to try and solicit new business.
How did they get my information?
As soon as you register your business Trademark and logo with IP Australia, your contact details are listed on a public register on the IP Australia website. The information is made public in case someone has an issue with your logo or Trademark and needs to contact you – or they’re just checking to make sure your business is legit.
These fake overseas agencies are “crawling” the IP Australia website for new listings, collecting your contact information (and logo image) and generating fake invoices. As the scammers are located overseas, Australian regulators do not have jurisdiction to shut them down. IP Australia has a warning on their website and recommends reporting the fake invoices to both them and ScamWatch.
Do not pay any invoices, respond to any emails or letters requesting further payments for your Trademark registration. Check with your lawyer or IP Australia first!