WARNING, don’t get caught out by a trademark scam! When you register a trademark, it becomes public knowledge. The trademark is advertised in the Australian Official Journal of Trade Marks, as accepted, to await opposition, if any. Because your trademark is advertised, and it becomes public knowledge, this leaves the door open to unscrupulous people to try to take advantage of you with a trademark scam.
Different Trademark Scams
- Trademark scam letter asking for money
- Trademark scam letter telling you that you have infringed another trademark
- Trademark scam letter telling you that you have to register in a different country
Trademark Scam Letter Asking for Money
One type of trademark scam is the letter asking you for money for registration. See the image attached. Even we, as trademark professionals, get trademark scam letters! This letter is from Hungary, and they are asking for $1850.00, seriously. If you get a letter like this YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY ANY MONEY!!!
Strictly speaking, they have done nothing wrong. It is a letter regarding the addition of your trademark into a Hungarian business directory. However, the way that the letter is worded is very vague, and some people may think that it is something that they have to pay to get their trademark registered, and accidently pay it.
It may sound crazy to most that some people may pay this money. But, just as a few people send money to the king of Nigeria, or invest in ponzi schemes, every once in a while, people make mistakes.
At Quick Off The Mark we have also received letters advising us that a trademark registered in Australia has infringed a trademark in another country. In this case, the letters were from China, but could quite easily be from any other country. They then go on to say that you need to transfer some money, then the trademark can be registered in that country and you will be protected. Once again, YOU DO NOT NEED TO PAY ANY MONEY!
Trademarks are jurisdictional. This means that if you apply for a trademark (in good faith) in Australia, and it is advertised as accepted in the Australian Official Journal of Trade Marks, then this application is for Australia ONLY. You have NOT infringed a trademark in another country.
- NOTE – Depending on your business / brand, it may be worth registering a trademark in these countries, however this is a separate application altogether!
International Trademark Scam
Another scam that we have seen is similar to the infringement trademark scam, is the international trademark registration scam. We have received letters advising us that another company could register your trademark in their country, and if we need to secure the intellectual property, we must pay them their fee.
Again, as above, it might be worthwhile registering your trademark in these countries. If you are selling your goods and/or services overseas, or you intend to provide your goods and/or services in another country, then it might make sense for you to protect your intellectual property there.
However, you DO NOT have to reply to the letter, and you DO NOT have to pay their (usually inflated) fee.
How To Avoid a Trademark Scam
- Get a trademark professional to manage your trademark matters
- Never send money to overseas bank accounts
- Always check correspondence with IP Australia
- All correspondence should come from IP Australia
- IF IN DOUBT, LET US CHECK IT OUT!
Edit 19 September 2014
We just received another trademark scam letter, see below:
If you receive a letter like this, you do not have to pay them any money. It looks like an invoice, or a bill, but it is not! Just contact us or contact IP Australia if you are unsure about a trademark scam.