If you get an unsolicited letter or invoice asking for payment to renew a trademark registration don’t blindly pay it, because there’s every chance it’s a scam.
There’s an increasing number of unsolicited or fraudulent intellectual property protection, promotion or advertising service being offered to IP holders, the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office (IPONZ) warns.
“Letters from unfamiliar organisations, especially letters requesting payment for unsolicited services, should be treated with caution. These companies may try to create the false impression that they represent an official organization,” IPONZ says.
Examples of letters doing the rounds include offers and invoices to renew a patent or trademark, offers to register patents or trademarks in international registers or catalogues, invoices for registration of patents or trademarks in registers, offers of patent or trademark monitoring services.
The letters are being sent out under a variety of business names. Earlier this year the Commerce Commission investigated TM Publisher, an overseas company that sent invoices for unsolicited services to a number of New Zealand trademark owners.
The Commerce Commission reached an agreement with the company that will see refunds for anyone who paid an invoice from 6 April 2016. The Commission is still negotiating with TM Publisher over payments it received before 6 April. The Commission is encouraging any businesses that have paid an invoice from TM Publisher to contact them on 0800 943 600.