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Misleading Invoices: a warning

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What do you mean I spent all my pocket money settling a fake invoice?

What do you mean I spent all my pocket money settling a fake invoice?

No IP blog would be complete without a warning on misleading IP invoices, so here’s ours!

If you are the owner of an intellectual property (IP) right then you may from time-to-time receive communications that resemble official looking invoices for IP services. Such misleading invoices are sent directly to the IP owner and are designed such that they give the impression to the IP owner that they have to either use the service offered or pay the amount listed.

It is important that all IP owners double check the invoices they receive and satisfy themselves that such invoices are genuine.

Misleading invoices tend to relate to one of the following:

  • An offer to renew your IP right. The fee is much higher than the true official fee and only the small print makes it clear that what is really on offer is arranging payment of your renewal fee for an inflated service charge.
  • An offer to apply for a Community trade mark filing
  • Entry onto an official sounding, but in reality totally unnecessary, register or publication.

How can you spot the scams?  You should generally only receive letters and invoices about your IP rights from either your IP representative or possibly a renewal agency (if you use a separate firm for managing your renewals). Occasionally you may receive a communication from an official IP office. The following official offices (listed on the UKIPO website) are the only offices that provide patent, trade mark and design protection in the UK:

  • The UKIPO
  • The European Patent Office (EPO)
  • The Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM)
  • The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)

If you receive an invoice you are not sure about, Keltie can advise you as to whether it is genuine or a scam.  Always check with your professional representative if you are unsure, and follow the above link to the UKIPO website for more details.

More on misleading invoices can be found at the following links:

  • UKIPO
  • EPO
  • WIPO
  • OHIM
  • CIPA – Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys. This page has examples of misleading invoices.
  • ITMA – Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys

Gemma Sparrow    7 May 2013


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