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Warning: misleading invoices - don’t be fooled

Latest news: ASA & Trading Standards landmark agreement on Misleading Invoices

Trading Standards have agreed to act as the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) “legal backstop” in relation to any non-broadcast advertisers who continue to break the rules on misleading advertising.

Any advertiser that persists in breaking the rules through misleading, aggressive or otherwise unfair non-broadcast advertising can face referral from the ASA to Trading Standards who will consider taking legal action under consumer and business protection laws.

This is good news for any IP rights owners who continue to receive misleading invoices about renewals and other services. This new arrangement is a further deterrent to companies who operate using misleading invoices.

Further information External Link about this new agreement is available on the ASA website.

Updated: 20 December 2013

The Advertising Standards Authority rules against Trademark Renewal Service Ltd

NBC Bird & Pest Solutions Ltd recently complained to the ASA about a renewal invoice from Trademark Renewal Service Ltd. They felt the mailing was misleading as it was not clear it had been sent by a private company with no affiliation to the Intellectual Property Office.

We are pleased to say that the ASA Council's adjudication upheld the complaint. They considered the presentation of the Trademark Renewal Service Ltd mailing was misleading and ruled that it must not appear again in its current form.

A copy of the full and final adjudication is available from the ASA website External Link.

Updated: 5 June 2013

This decision reinforces our advice to customers. If you receive an unsolicited invitation, DO NOT PAY IT until you have checked to see what services are being offered and if it is from an official source. These companies are not linked to any Government or Community institution - you are NOT obliged to pay their fees.

If you receive a misleading invoice, we'd like to hear about it.

It has even happened to us - see the invoices we have received PDF document(162Kb) and our response PDF document(827Kb).

What services do these invoices offer?

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) External Link and the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) External Link 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 External Link to find your local office. The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) also provide further information on unsolicited invitations External Link.

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)