Beware the World Intelligent Property Office

Many owners of U.S. trademark applications and registrations are familiar with the official-looking scam notices sent by certain unscrupulous private companies (the USPTO has a dedicated page warning about such solicitations here).  Such notices are designed to trick trademark owners into paying large amounts of money to “maintain” or “protect” their marks, but for years have offered unnecessary services that have no legal significance, such as “publishing” the marks in a private, unofficial trademark “registry.”  This problem is not limited to U.S. trademark owners—similar scam notices have appeared in countries around the world.  Now, in an apparent effort to prove that avarice truly has no geopolitical boundaries, the hucksters are thinking globally.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has issued an official warning that an outfit calling itself the “World Intelligent Property Office” (genius, no?) is “sending letters to the holders of international registrations and their representatives, inviting them to pay fees for registering/publishing their marks.”  Fake WIPO has a similar name, a logo almost identical to the real WIPO logo, a similar web address, and a similar mailing address in Geneva, Switzerland (it’s almost as if fake WIPO wanted to create confusion).  Fake WIPO also helpfully includes bank transfer details on its notice, advising its recipients that its “registration/publication” services are available for the low, low price of 1,998,80 (about $2,435, if you act now), payable within eight days of receipt of the “payment notification.”  As a final courtesy, fake WIPO warns recipients that “FAILURE TO PAY REGISTRATION/PUBLICATION FEE, YOUR INTERNATIONAL MARK COULD BE CANCELLED!”  Be afraid.

As real WIPO points out, “[a]ll international trademark registrations and related records are published in the ‘WIPO Gazette of International Marks,’ the only official publication of the Madrid System.  All fees under the Madrid System should be paid to WIPO directly in Swiss Francs or through the Office of Origin.”  As further guidance on “identifying misleading invoices,” real WIPO lists examples of such notices on its website here.  Read the real WIPO warning here, and the fake WIPO notice here.


Reposted from WIPO.