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The UKIPO (UK Intellectual Property Office), which is the official government body responsible for patents and registered trade marks in the UK, has asked all patent and trade mark owners to be vigilant, especially those with a renewal fee due in the next few months.
This is because a Latvian Company has set up using the same name as the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) in order to defraud unsuspecting victims. This company has have been sending renewal reminder letters asking for money for the renewal of UK patents and UK registered trade marks.
The documentation they use is almost identical to the official renewal reminders issued by the UKIPO, but instead provides different bank details. You should also be aware that there are also several other companies which use trading names similar to those used by the UKIPO.
The UKIPO took action against two previous offenders ( ‘Patent and Trademark Office’ and ‘Patent and Trade Mark Organisation’), by filing a claim for passing off at the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court. These organisations had been issuing official looking ‘renewal notices’ to UK patent and registered trade mark proprietors which offered to renew their patent or registered trade mark, but at highly inflated prices.
Some proprietors of UK patents or UK registered trade marks were misled or confused by these invoices and the UKIPO was successful in their claim for passing off because of the damage being caused to the UKIPO’s good name. The persons responsible for ‘Patent and Trademark Office’ and ‘Patent and Trade Mark Organisation’ admitted to, and settled, the claim and are now prohibited from committing such further acts of passing off.
A company trading as ‘Intellectual Property Agency Ltd (IPA)’ also issued scam renewal notices, giving the impression that IPA was the IPO. The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court found them liable for both trade mark infringement and passing off and they were ordered to pay £500,000 plus legal costs; the maximum financial award possible from this Court. Read our full article here.
If you are concerned that you have received a fraudulent invoice, please do not hesitate to contact your usual advisor at Wilson Gunn.