We register trademarks for a lot of our customers. As a result we end up getting a lot of invoices for trademark renewals, community trademark filing and entries into public registers. They look official and are sent by official sounding companies but unfortunately a lot of these are not legitimate invoices.
The companies that send them out use the publically available trademark information to compile mailing lists and then automatically ‘invoice’ everyone who has registered a trademark. Recently they have even sent invoices for trademark fees to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), who are the body responsible for collecting these fees (see the example below). The IPO have posted some of these invoices on a new warnings section of their site. They refer to them as misleading invoices and point out that they asked for payments of £1500 for a trademark renewal which should have cost £350.
The IPO point out that the only organisations which offer legal trademark and patent services in the UK other than themselves are the European Patent Office (EPO), The Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) and The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). If you receive an invoice asking for payment from anyone other than these organisations then the IPO advice is not to pay it. They suggest instead that you consult a trademark attorney, solicitor, trading standards or give them a call direct.
Trademark are the best way to protect your business name. Before launching into a trademark application we recommend conducting a trademark search to see what words or phrases are already taken. If you would like more information about how trademarks can be used to protect your business please get in touch.