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Client Alert- Trade Mark Scams

We have become increasingly aware of trade mark scams operating to deceive registered trade mark owners into paying money to “maintain the registration” of their marks. As most of our clients list Surry Partners as their address for service for all correspondence relating to their trade marks, we are usually able to intercept these communications. However, recently, some of you have been sent these letters requiring payment directly and have contacted us for advice.

Here are five tips to ensure that you don’t fall victim to trade mark fraud:

  • The only official correspondence you will ever receive in relation to your trade mark will be from IP Australia, or the relevant international trade mark office if you have an international registration. Usually, trade mark correspondence will be sent to you from us, as we should be listed as the address for service.
  • It appears these scams are operating out of Eastern Europe, specifically Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
  • The documents are designed to look official- they will have all of your trade mark details on them, including the trade mark number, owner name, and address. This is because this information is publically available on the Trade Mark Database, and these companies trawl through the database to extract it.
  • You will only need to pay for your trade mark at the time of registration, and at the renewal stage, which is every 10 years.
  • Some of the letters even go so far as to warn you against other scams in an attempt to make them appear official- don’t fall for it!

We have also become aware of a similar process for domain names. Clients are being contacted by operators purporting to be domain name registration companies, and they are either given an invoice for a domain name which is similar to their address, save for one slight detail (e.g. the extension net.au instead of com.au), or they are sent a “renewal notice” from a company which they did not register their domain name with. These communications are also fraudulent, and you should only respond to correspondence sent from the business you normally deal with in relation to your domain name.

If you receive anything resembling above, throw it in the recycle bin where it belongs. Of course, if you are unsure, please feel free to contact us for advice.

Anthea Eills

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This content is produced by Surry Partners Lawyers and is for general information purposes only. It is not a substitute for legal advice and we do not guarantee its currency. You should seek formal legal advice specific to your circumstances.