Intellectual property firm Baldwins says there has been an increase in the number of unsolicited or fraudulent letters or emails purporting to offer services such as IP protection, promotion, advertising, or renewal of registered IP rights and domain names.
Baldwins says many scam letters or emails look official.
"However, these unsolicited letters are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ), IP Australia, Domain Name Registries, or the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) and should be treated with caution.
"For example, a scam letter or email may state that the sender is involved in the registration of business names or keywords including company names and domain names and that a third party has attempted to register your trade mark or company name as a domain name. They then go on to state that they have delayed the application process while they contact you so that you can register the domain name instead.
"Other letters may request that you pay fees for registration or renewal of registered IP rights or the publication of your registered rights in an official sounding publication. Some even provide links to very legitimate looking websites."
Baldwins says the companies that send the emails appear to trawl through public registers, such as the Companies Register and The Trade Mark and Patent Registers, and then create spam letters or emails using the names they locate through these searches.
"They are simply trying to scare you into unnecessary action as a means of creating business for themselves, or, worse, defrauding you of money without doing anything. We strongly advise against dealing with them," the firm says.
The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) includes some examples of the misleading invoices on its website.