The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) has handed out a fine of £500,000 to an agency that has been contacting trade mark owners, and leading them to believe that it was the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO).  The agency, which called itself ‘The Intellectual Property Agency’, was found guilty of passing off and of trade mark infringement.  The fine is the maximum that can be handed out by the IPEC.

Overcharging Trade Mark Owners

The scam involved contacting trade mark owners to inform them that their trade mark registration was due for renewal, or their rights would expire.  The agency asked for a fee that is up to six times higher than the IPO’s actual renewal fee; which is £200 for the first class in which the trade mark is registered, and £50 for each subsequent class.

IP Owners and Bogus Requests for Payment

Trade mark owners have, in recent years, been receiving letters from agencies claiming to be responsible for collecting renewal or other fees.  Professional trade mark attorneys, such as those at SH&P, have made their clients aware that these are bogus requests and should be reported either directly to the IPO or to a trade mark attorney.  The same is true for any unexpected communications or invoices relating to other forms of intellectual property (IP), including patents.

The UK’s Intellectual Property Minister, Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe, said: “Deliberately misleading consumers into thinking they are engaging with an official government agency is a very serious matter.  Such representations of this kind will not be tolerated and with the help of the IPO we take the issue of protecting IP seriously across government.”

Professional Advice from SH&P

Our patent and trade mark attorneys can readily distinguish fake requests for IPO fees from the real thing.  We work closely with our clients to make sure they only pay the fees they are required to and do not incur any unnecessary costs.  If you think you have received a fake request for fees, please contact us and we will be happy to let you know whether or not the correspondence is genuine.  You can also contact us for a free initial consultation on your IP – whether you are an individual, business or organisation.  Just call our offices to make an appointment today.