Today's post is a reader request about fake trademark invoices. Not nearly as exciting as the guy who sold the Eiffel Tower to a scrap metal dealer, but still a scam to be addressed.
The takeaway is: if you hired an attorney to file a trademark for you, then you should ignore any and all future invoices you receive purporting to be official trademark fees (except your attorney's bill, of course).
When you register a U.S. or foreign trademark, the address you use becomes public as does the name of the trademark, the goods and services associated with it, and your company name. This means that all sorts of miscreants are able to find it and send you spam, fake invoices, etc. It also means that the fake invoices can be tailored very specifically to you. Additionally, the names of the swindlers tend to sound vaguely like government trademark/patent agencies. Often the invoices try to scare you into thinking that you will forfeit some sort of registration right if you don't pay. If you wouldn't ordinarily send money to an eastern bloc country, these invoices should not be the reason to start.
Below is a list of some common swindlers and a link to the letters they are currently sending:
Gaia Almanach Ltd, PO Box 142, 8501 Papa, HU
IPTO sro, Prikop 843/4, 60200 Bmo, Czech Republic
RPT Servis sro, P.O. Box 75, CZ-69002, Czech Republic
TM-Edition Ltd, Szechenyi ter 17, 2000 Szentendre, HU
WIPT sro, P.O. Box 52, 814 99 Bratislava 1, Slovak Republic
WPTS sro, P.O. Box 221, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic
Here is a short list of common, legitimate trademark offices:
U.S. Trademarks: The United States Patent and Trademark Office, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
E.U. Trademarks: The Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, Avenida de Europa, 4, E-03008 Alicante, Spain
WIPO: World Intellectual Property Organization, 34, chemin des Colombettes, CH-1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland
, Place du Portage I, 50 Victoria Street, Room C-114, Gatineau QC K1A 0C9
The United States Patent and Trademark Office also maintains a list and copies of various fake invoices. The current list can be found at the bottom of this "Caution: misleading notices" article.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (legit) also maintains an extensive list and copies of letters from foreign scammers. The current WIPO list can be found in this "WARNING: Requests for Payment of Fees" article.