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Recently, many Australian businesses have become the target of a surge in intellectual property scams that charge substantial amounts of money for services of little or no commercial value. We have received numerous inquiries from business owners questioning the veracity of unsolicited correspondence purporting to offer IP related services. Invariably, these 'service providers' have no association with IP Australia, the official government administrator of intellectual property. IP Australia warns that such services "do not affect official trade mark registration or trade mark rights in Australia...or in any other country".
Unsolicited IP Services

While generally aimed at trade mark owners and domain name holders, owners of any registered IP rights should be aware of the types of scams currently circulating and how to avoid incurring expenses for services that ultimately afford very little or no commercial use.

Business owners should treat any unsolicited correspondence with caution and should be particularly wary of invoices or offers from overseas companies. Examples include offers to register trade marks in overseas countries, invoices for registration or renewal of trade marks and monitoring services.

The latest scams regarding domain names include correspondence received from overseas countries (predominantly Asia) forcing business owners to consider registering domain names in those countries because of the fear that another company is seeking to register a similar domain name to the Australian domain in that country.
Know the process

If you have applied for or registered intellectual property rights in Australia, all correspondence should come from IP Australia or the IP professional you have engaged. If you have applied for or own international intellectual property rights, correspondence should be received from the International Bureau at the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the government organisation responsible for the intellectual property in that country, or your IP professional in that country.
What should you do?

Unsolicited correspondence can appear genuine and may be tailored to the specific details of your intellectual property rights. Be aware that such information is available on public databases and fraudulent companies are known to use this information to send out official looking documentation.

Before paying any fees for IP related services, think about what protection, promotion or other value the service is providing, if any at all. Unsolicited letters might be offering you a service, for a fee, which is available from IP Australia without charge.

If you receive any such correspondence please contact Gadens Lawyers. We will be able to advise you how to proceed.

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Category Intellectual Property Rights, Other Articles by - Raj Kumar Makkad