Recently, we’ve had a rash of clients receiving misleading demands for fees relating to patents and trademarks. These demands typically take the form of official-looking letters that falsely suggest a connection with the International Bureau of WIPO or European Patent Office, and that solicit fees for some supposed service such as “registration” of a patent or patent application.

iptrOne recently received letter contained specific details about a published PCT patent application, and asked that EUR 1675.00 be sent by check or wire transfer to an organization named IPTR (International Patent and Trademark Registry) at an address listed as a post office box in Nürnberg, Germany. The described service to be provided was registration of the patent application:

We refer to the publication of your patent application, application number: PCT/US2008/xxxxxx, publication number: WO 2009/xxxxx, publication date: 23.04.2009, in the public patent bulletin. We offer the registration of your patent application on the basis of our own data records in our private database which appears which appears on the World Wide Web. The entry includes all the data concerning your patent application listed to the right of this text and basic-data concerning your company. The publishing serves the constantly increasing demand for information, particularly with regard to your competitors and business partners.

OK, so they agree to take your patent application information  — information already freely available on the patent office website — and then re-post it on their own website?! On the WORLD WIDE WEB!  WOOHOO! Whatever registration services might be offered in such invitations, they have no connection to WIPO or to any of its official publications and have no bearing on your intellectual property rights.

Admittedly, it does warn you that “This offer for registration is not an invoice. You are under no obligation to pay the amount unless you accept this offer.”  I guess, technically, they warned you that you can through the mailing in the trash but they’re counting on you not reading too carefully.

I know we’ve discussed this before but it’s worth repeating:  please carefully review all such requests.  If possible, confirm with your attorney whether or not a solicitation is valid.  These invitations to pay fees do not come from the International Bureau of WIPO and are unrelated to the processing of international applications under the PCT.

Only the International Bureau of WIPO publishes all PCT applications (after the expiration of 18 months from the priority date) and there is no separate fee for international publication.

An example of such invitations can be viewed below.  See other registry payment request letters here.

Example of a Patent Registry Scam (PDF File)

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  1. WIPO’s website contains examples of many of the letters used in these scams, including one I sent them a couple of years ago. If you see a new one of these letters, I’m sure they would love to have it to to post on their site (in clean form – your client’s identifying data removed) as another horrid example for people to beware of.

  2. I had a client (a sole proprietor who couldn’t afford this crap) once who fell for one of these trademark scams. I managed to get to her in time and she stopped the check.

    I have a whole folder of these. I’ll see if I have any that WIPO doesn’t.

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