By Linda Xu, Parralegal
Unsolicited offers of intellectual property services has a long history and it is a lucrative racket because this practice is still continuing with increased frequency to this day.
It is important for trade mark applicants and owners to be vigilant in scrutinising any unsolicited correspondence to avoid being left out of pocket for services which they never receive or pay for services which add no value to their trade mark for inflated prices.
How do they get my details?
Once a trade mark application is lodged, the address details of the applicant become publicly available on the Australian Trade Marks Register and published in the Australian Official Journal of Trade Marks.
Third party organisations regularly monitor the official records on the Register, data mine the information, and issue official-looking correspondence to trade mark applicants and owners offering unsolicited intellectual property services for payment.
Some of the unsolicited services offered are straightforward scams. Other services are more sophisticated and arguably legitimate but in reality are ancillary services which provide no real value and in no way assist with the registration of a trade mark. In some circumstances, these services are actually delivered for an exorbitant fee.
This practice is unfortunately very common and IP Australia, the government agency responsible for overseeing trade mark registrations, is well aware of it. IP Australia has published information on its website, including a non-exhaustive list of organisations and examples of correspondence likely to be received: https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/ip-infringement/more-about-ip-infringement/unsolicited-invoices
These organisations are private businesses and have no associations with us or any government agency.
Most of these organisations are primarily based in Europe, so if you pay these organisations without scrutinising the invoices, the chances of recovering any payment made is next to impossible.
The rule of thumb: check before paying
Do not pay invoices from organisations which you do not recognise.
If you have filed a trade mark application yourself, ignore all correspondence unless it comes from IP Australia.
If you have filed a trade mark application through a lawyer or a trade mark attorney, all official correspondence should go through the lawyer or attorney.
If you have any doubts about any correspondence which you have received regarding your trade mark applications/registrations, please get in touch with us and we can verify its legitimacy
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