Warning: misleading invoices - don’t be fooled
We are aware that customers have received unsolicited invitations from companies offering services to help them protect their intellectual property (IP) rights in return for a fee.
These companies are not linked to any Government or Community institution - you are NOT obliged to pay their fees.
What do the invitations look like?
Invitations are often issued as official-looking invoices.
Many customers have told us they thought the mails came from an official source and think they have to use, and pay for, the services offered.
What services do these invoices offer?
- Renewal of your IP right - for fees greatly in excess of official fees.
- Entries in publications or registers - that can sound very official.
- Community trade mark filing - an offer to apply for EU-wide trade mark protection.
If you receive an unsolicited invitation, DO NOT PAY IT until you have checked carefully to see what services are being offered and whether it has come from an official source.
If in doubt, rights owners should check with their patent or trade mark attorney, solicitor, patent advisor or inventor-support organisation. Alternatively contact us on 0300 300 2000.
You can also visit the websites of the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA) and the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) in relation to sources of initial legal advice in relation to any contractual aspect of the unsolicited invitation and also in relation to general advice on patents, designs and trade marks.
Trading Standards offices also offer advice on dealing with unsolicited mail. Visit their website to find your local office.
The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) also provide further information on unsolicited invitations .
If you receive a misleading invoice, we'd like to hear about it.
The following are the only offices that provide legal protection for trade marks, patents and designs in the UK:
- The Intellectual Property Office (IPO)
- The European Patent Office (EPO)
- The Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM)
- The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)