We’ve previously written about the problem of scam invoices in which UK, European and other IP rights holders receive invoices inviting them to pay for the publication of their IP right in some official sounding register. Variations of the scam involve offers to renew IP rights or even apply for IP rights. Previous IPcopy articles can be found here and all the main IPOs have their own sections which keep tabs on the latest examples of such scams (UKIPO, EPO, EUIPO, WIPO).
A more recent example of such scams is one in which the target is invited to buy domain names. According to the UKIPO the initial contact is a telephone call from an organisation that says they are the “Trade Marks Intellectual Property Office”.
Targeted companies may then receive a follow up invoice (example invoice) from DNS Europe – Intellectual Property Agency* which invites payment. In the example invoice, payment is requested within 10 days and because the domain name purchase is for 10 years, the charges are relatively high.
Anyone receiving an approach similar to that described above can contact Action Fraud which is operated by the City of London Police. These attempts fall under domain name fraud.
As always if you receive an approach to pay for services, be that for domain name sales/renewals or for other IP rights, always ask if the invoice is legitimate. Your professional representative will be able to advise you if you have any doubts. Remember that you should generally only receive letters and invoices about your IP rights from your IP representative (or whoever you bought you domain name from) or possibly a renewal agency (if you use a separate firm to manage IP renewals). Occasionally you may receive a communication from an official IP office but it’s always best to check before paying.
Mark Richardson 14 March 2017