Recently, many Australian businesses have become the target of a
surge in intellectual property scams that charge substantial
amounts of money for services of little or no commercial value. We
have received numerous inquiries from business owners questioning
the veracity of unsolicited correspondence purporting to offer IP
related services. Invariably, these 'service providers'
have no association with IP Australia, the official government
administrator of intellectual property. IP Australia warns that
such services "do not affect official trade mark registration
or trade mark rights in Australia...or in any other
Unsolicited IP Services
While generally aimed at trade mark owners and domain name
holders, owners of any registered IP rights should be aware of the
types of scams currently circulating and how to avoid incurring
expenses for services that ultimately afford very little or no
Business owners should treat any unsolicited correspondence with
caution and should be particularly wary of invoices or offers from
overseas companies. Examples include offers to register trade marks
in overseas countries, invoices for registration or renewal of
trade marks and monitoring services.
The latest scams regarding domain names include correspondence
received from overseas countries (predominantly Asia) forcing
business owners to consider registering domain names in those
countries because of the fear that another company is seeking to
register a similar domain name to the Australian domain in that
Know the process
If you have applied for or registered intellectual property
rights in Australia, all correspondence should come from IP
Australia or the IP professional you have engaged. If you have
applied for or own international intellectual property rights,
correspondence should be received from the International Bureau at
the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the government
organisation responsible for the intellectual property in that
country, or your IP professional in that country.
What should you do?
Unsolicited correspondence can appear genuine and may be
tailored to the specific details of your intellectual property
rights. Be aware that such information is available on public
databases and fraudulent companies are known to use this
information to send out official looking documentation.
Before paying any fees for IP related services, think about what
protection, promotion or other value the service is providing, if
any at all. Unsolicited letters might be offering you a service,
for a fee, which is available from IP Australia without charge.
If you receive any such correspondence please contact Gadens
Lawyers. We will be able to advise you how to proceed.
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