We have noticed an increasing amount of unsolicited or fraudulent IP protection, promotion or advertising services being offered to IP holders.
If you receive any communication about your IP case from anyone other than:
- the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ),
- the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO),
- your appointed IP professional,
you should treat them with caution, particularly if they are notifying you regarding a fee for a service. This correspondence may come in the form of an invoice, and may mislead you into paying for a service that you have not authorised.
These communications may include:
- offers and invoices to renew your patent or renew your trade mark;
- offers to register patents or trade marks in international registers or catalogues;
- invoices for registration of patents or trade marks in registers;
- offers of patent or trade mark monitoring services;
- threats of legal action if the invoice for an unsolicited service is not paid.
The sources of these communications may try to create the false impression that they represent an official organisation, or that their registers or publications are of an official nature.
Have you received an unsolicited invoice?
It may not be immediately obvious whether or not an invoice you’re received is “on the level”. However, there are some best practices that you can adopt:
- Check the contents of the letter. Is it from an unfamiliar organisation, or does it involve a service you haven’t heard of? Does it contain an obligation for payment, or does it only look like one?
- Have a clear process for how you handle invoices or payment requests. Even if the invoice looks legitimate, it should be verified before it’s paid. Your business may be set up to manage its own intellectual property, or you may have already authorised an IP professional to manage this on your behalf.
- Have a clear point of escalation for your staff. If a staff member receives a letter requesting for payment, make sure they know who to ask for help.
- Make sure that you receive the services you pay for. You should put checks in place to make sure that anything you’ve paid for has been performed or delivered as agreed. If you’re paying for something in advance, set a reminder to check this at a future date.
If you have received an unsolicited invoice, or an unsolicited communication that resembles an invoice, you should:
- Get professional advice. If you have any doubts about a communication you have received, you should contact IPONZ or an IP professional to verify its authenticity.
- Seek more information. For example, the Consumer Protection website provides information to consumers and businesses to help recognise, avoid, and report scams.
The following Sample misleading invoices have been previously reported by IP owners in New Zealand as being unsolicited and misleading.
|Name/s of organisation||Samples of misleading invoices|
WPTA – World Patent & Trademark Agency / World Patent Trademark Agency
WPTR – World Patent and Trademark Register
* Please visit the Industrial Property Office of Czechia website for more information.
|Patent and Trademark Office|
|EIPA – European Intellectual Property Agency||Sample misleading invoice [PDF, 205 KB]|
|Stern Young & Partners
Zagorski & Partners
* This solicitation may appear under the names of various organisations or entities.
|Sample misleading invoice [PDF, 432 KB]|
|Patent & Trademark Organisation||Sample misleading invoice [PDF, 627 KB]|
|Patent & Trademark Organisation LLC||Sample misleading invoice [PDF, 38 KB]|
|European Trademark Publication Register||Sample misleading invoice [PDF, 263 KB]|
|IDRTM – International Online Database of Registered Trade Marks
IDRTM – International Database of Registered Trade Marks
|Sample misleading invoice [PDF, 145 KB]|
|IPOS – Intellectual Property Organisation Service||Sample misleading invoice [PDF, 168 KB]|
|IOIP – International Organisation Intellectual Property||Sample misleading invoice [PDF, 126 KB]|
|IPTR – International Patent and Trademark Register||Sample misleading invoice [PDF, 82 KB]|
A list of unsolicited or fraudulent IP related schemes and information from around the world including other IP offices can also be found on the World Intellectual Property Organization website: