March 26, 2010 - Anonymous
Small businesses applying for trademark protection have been warned by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to watch out for scams, following complaints about a bogus letter that demands payment in return for registering their business details.
Applicants and owners of UK trademarks and patents are being targeted by the so-called European Institute for Economy and Commerce (EIEC), which is sending out “official” invoices requesting payment of £188.50 in return for entering company details on its “protected trademarks register”.
However, the IPO said that no UK business was required to submit this type of information as part of their trademark or patent application, and urged firms to ignore the requests, saying that the EIEC does not exist.
“Businesses need to be aware that these companies, such as the EIEC, are not linked to any Government or community institution and there is no obligation to use them,” said IPO spokesman, Matt Navarra.
The IPO added that the EIEC appears to be targeting businesses once their application for a UK patent, design or trademark has been published, as this includes company details.
Marketing consultant Rosie Heptonstall, who was invoiced £479 by the EIEC following two online trademark applications, said start-ups and small firms were particularly vulnerable to such scams. “Businesses could easily be panicked into paying, especially due to the official looking appearance of the letters,” she said.
To avoid falling prey to fraudsters, firms should only deal with the IPO, the European Patent Office and the Community Trade Mark Office when making applications.
“If businesses are in any doubt, we would advise that you either check with your registered trademark or patent attorney, your solicitor, or contact us,” said Navarra.
Firms wanting to submit a trademark or patent application can apply online at the IPO website.