Phishing alert! Watch out for requests for trade mark renewal instructions

In one of our previous posts, we talked about fake invoices, which have plagued the trade mark community since several years.

Scammers tried to convince trade mark owners to pay exorbitant amounts to renew their trade mark registrations, or even to appear in trade mark registers which turned out to be non-existent.

Courts in several EU Member States have condemned the individuals behind those scams to severe sentences.

Phishers become more subtle

Recently, a more subtle scam has emerged. Companies claiming to provide “IP services” send letters to trade mark owners reminding them to file a renewal request up to one year before the expiry of the registration. Although the renewal rates proposed by those scammers appear to be similar to those of official trade mark representatives, the service provided in return is quite meager, as there is no advice regarding the necessity of the trade mark renewal whatsoever.

The objective of those scammers is clearly to bypass the official trade mark representatives, who will generally only request their client’s renewal instructions when the renewal of a trademark becomes due (i.e. 6 months for EUTM registrations and 3 months for International Registrations). By then, it will be too late, because the general conditions of the scammers do not allow for a cancellation of the order.

Contact us in case of doubt

The scammers use mailbox addresses in several EU Member States and are therefore very difficult to identify. They are not listed as official representatives before the trade mark offices, such as BOIP, EUIPO or WIPO.

FENCER calls upon all trade mark owners to notify us in case of receipt of a misleading letter or invoice regarding their trade mark registrations. All of our lawyers are qualified and registered to represent clients before the trade mark offices.

If you have any further questions on this specific topic, please contact Stephanie Wuyts or Caro Vanwichelen.