In our Ploum IP team we regularly hear about scam trademark invoices. Annoying to receive, but even worse if you have paid such an invoice. We cannot warn you enough: watch out and when in doubt, ask us.
Fortunately, many of our clients are cautious and send us suspicious invoices, asking: “Is this right?”. However, we regularly have people telling us: “I received such an invoice for a Benelux trade mark filing, which looked kind of strange because it came from country XYZ, but I just paid it.” And we know it’s a much bigger issue, because the people who have been scammed are usually unaware that this has happened to them. In addition, many people are ashamed of this.
Being ashamed is not necessary. From freelancers to multinationals, all kinds of companies have been victimized. The fraudsters have cleverly constructed their fraudulent activities. Self-employed people are often ignorant and do not want debt collection agencies knocking on their door; in larger companies the amount of money to be paid is often below certain authorization thresholds or just blindly approved.
Tips & Tricks
Creating awareness among the public remains important. As a rule of thumb: when it is trade mark related never pay an invoice from another party than your trade mark attorney and, if in doubt, send the invoice to your attorney.
Companies can easily check the received invoices on the websites of the official trade mark authorities. Most websites can be found here: https://www.wipo.int/madrid/en/fees/ip_position.html.
Ploum helps out
Ploum is at the forefront of combating this kind of fraud and Ploum partner Willem Leppink, who is also a member of the executive committee of the European trademark owners organization MARQUES, is actively involved in the pan-European network led by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), to make it as difficult as possible for these fraudsters.
The motto remains: be cautious and do not just pay every invoice you receive.
More information can be found here.