Shelston IP has become aware of a recent increase in the number of unscrupulous companies offering unsolicited IP services. We urge our clients to treat any unexpected correspondence about their intellectual property with caution.
Such correspondence typically appears in the form of a professional looking "invoice", with a request for payment regarding the "publication" or "renewal" of your patent, trade mark or design (often for countries outside Australia). "Publication" usually involves the inclusion of your patent, trade mark or design in a private journal (which may or may not exist).
These "publications" often have grandiose titles like "European Trade Marks Directory" (or similar). We advise that payment of this "invoice" does not confer any rights in your company's patent, trade mark or design in any country.
You may also receive an unsolicited offer (often in the form of an "invoice") which infers that payment is required to attend to the renewal of your patent, trade mark or design in order to maintain it (typically for significantly inflated sums).
This type of correspondence has historically been sent from organisations based in Eastern Europe (particularly Hungary, Romania and Czech Republic). However, they have also been sent from companies on letterhead bearing an Australian address, such as a Melbourne CBD address. They are widely posted and even IP Australia has received several "invoices".
IP Australia and the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) have previously issued alerts about such practices (see www.ipaustralia.gov.au/ip-infringement/unsolicited-ip-services).
Our firm is also aware of recent examples purportedly from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain and the United States. This correspondence typically looks "professional" and several of these organisations have developed websites to support of their deceptive practices. Consequently, we recommend that any request received is checked carefully. If you are unsure about the legitimacy of any correspondence you have received relating to your intellectual property, please feel free to contact Shelston IP for advice.
Shelston IP clients may receive correspondence from Computer Patent Annuities (CPA Global) who have been engaged by our firm to manage some IP renewal matters on our behalf. However, our clients should not receive solicitations from any other overseas entities.
Should you require assistance checking correspondence that you have received, or assistance with any other IP matters, our firm would be happy to assist you.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.