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March 12, 2012

Beware of bogus invoices (acquisition fraud)

Owners of intellectual property rights such as trademarks and patents are still regularly being sent bogus invoices. These are usually official-looking invoices or bills which charge the recipient for ‘inclusion in a register’. The senders have nothing to do with official registers or the IP authorities. From time to time we’ll regularly alert you to this problem, which is officially referred to as ‘acquisition fraud’. 

The reason why these fraudulent organisations can get hold of your details is because the IP registers are legally accessible documents and this means that your address details are visible to all. This is necessary in order to check whether the claim that someone owns a trademark right is correct. 

The bogus letters or invoices that are sent out can give the impression that they involve an official communication about your trademark or patent registration. However, if you study the small print you will find it’s really just an offer. Other letters try to get you to renew or extend your registration or sell you a domain name. 

Domain name hijackers 

A more recent problem concerns domain names, in which misleading e-mails are sent warning you against domain name hijackers. Many of these e-mails are sent from Asia and claim that a third party has applied to register a domain name (‘internet brand name’ or ‘keyword’) consisting of your trademark and an Asian extension. The sender then offers to register this domain name on your behalf. 

We strongly advise you under no circumstances to pay such invoices and not to respond to ‘offers’ from unknown correspondents. We recommend that all official correspondence concerning your trademark, patent or domain name should go through Zacco, where it will be in safe hands. If you have any doubts or questions regarding this, please don’t hesitate to contact us. 

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