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Don’t fall prey to patent fee scams

By David Schwartz
Published: February 22nd, 2012

Ryan Lobato sent an alert this week on behalf of his firm, McAfee & Taft, warning patent applicants and holders about a new scam that is hitting intellectual property professionals and their organizations

The scam preys on those who must deal with the considerable bureaucracy of the patent and trademark system, which is littered with applications, forms, affidavits, declarations, fees, notices and related correspondence. “PLEASE BEWARE: some companies rely on hyper-technical wording and clever marketing to lure unsuspecting patent and trademark owners into paying wasteful, superfluous or fraudulent fees,” Lobato says.

“Recently, several of our clients received what appear to be invoices from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office,” he reports. “Such notices typically come with very specific data, such as the serial number, filing date, title/trademark name, a seemingly official bar code, and the appropriate agency logos. Bold and underlined terms like U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) and United States Trademark Registration Office interspersed throughout the text add to the illusion of an official governmental correspondence.”

Some of those missives purport to “watch,” “protect,” “monitor,” or “list in the official register” your trademark or patent for a specified fee. Others offer training courses or purport to notify recipients of “prize awards,” and still others warn of trademark infringement through Asian Internet domain name extensions. You may be warned of an expiring application or registration, and offered a detachable stub to be mailed in with your payment. Some of the most inventive scammers include the actual names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers and/or photographs of a real agency’s directors and staff. “Particularly sophisticated exploitations have even included fake websites which closely emulate the URL, design and content of official websites,” Lobato says. “Close scrutiny invariably exposes these mailings as nothing more than subtly designed solicitations from private companies.”

Source: JDSupra

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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