Phishing, fake invoices, and trademarks on the brink of registration

01 December 2022

As a trademark owner, you have more than enough mail to deal with, much of it unsolicited. Trademark registers are public, as it must be transparent which rights are being claimed and by whom. This means that trademark holders’ contact details can be seen by anyone ─ criminals included. There are three main ways in which fraudsters try to take advantage of this situation:

- Fake invoices. You receive an invoice for your trademark. The name on the letterhead looks official and is practically identical to the name of an authentic trademark office. Examples include WIPP-World (similar to WIPO) and EUIPA (similar to EUIPO).

- Letter of renewal. You receive a letter from a 'trademark agency' telling you that your rights are due to expire from a company such as Levin Nyman & Partners. Usually, the rights are nowhere near their expiry date, and furthermore, the renewal fees are much higher than usual. What’s more, you will have to wait and see whether or not your rights actually will be renewed.

- Trademark on the brink of being registered. This ruse first popped up in China but is now also being used by European companies, two of which are operating under the names Trademarks Office and EU Brand Protection. This fraud consists of an e-mail from a company stating that a domain name or trademark is about to be registered and they want to inform the rightful trademark owner. Fortunately, many of our clients don't fall for this trick and forward the letter or e-mail to us for verification, whereby it soon becomes clear that we are dealing with a hoax.  

No one's perfect and even the most careful person can make a mistake. That is what makes these letters such a nuisance, especially as you will occasionally receive a letter from an official trademark office or a demand letter from another trademark owner, who wishes to contact you directly.

To avoid any such mishaps in the future, we recommend that you take the following steps:

  1. Make sure that you are shown all trademark-related mail, including invoices that are normally handled by your company's finance department.
  2. None of the due amounts stated in the letter are correct. We take care of paying official fees. As a rule, an official trademark office will never send an invoice to you directly.
  3. If you are in any doubt whatsoever concerning a letter or email, please send it to us.

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