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January 26, 2015

Trademarks and invoices: Watch out for potential scams!

By Steven Z. Raber

Many of our clients are calling and writing about “statements” and “invoices” they are receiving from entities they’ve not dealt with directly (or at all) in the past.  Once read very carefully, it appears that these mostly amount to offers to renew Canadian registrations, usually years before they are due for renewal.  Others are offers to “register” or “publish” marks in some overseas data bases.

Those clients who contact us are usually told the same thing—these offers are of little or no value. Although we don’t usually call them scams, at least some are exactly that. They are dressed up to look like official documents and busy folks can be fooled into paying. 

It is important to remember that intellectual property registrations are of public record, accessible worldwide over the internet. Some less-than-honest folks use information gleaned from official sources to solicit money from unwitting registered owners.

Please note that there are times when the authorities will write to trademark owners.  We, as our clients’ representative for service, will receive copies of those communications, which usually relate to renewal or cancellation proceedings.

Our standard advice to clients is that, if there is any doubt, they need only ask us for confirmation as to the authenticity of any trademark-related communications they receive. If legitimate, we will be pleased to assist. If not, we’ll be happy to help you save money.

Put another way, until we say otherwise, consider these communications to be scams.

Steven Z. Raber is a lawyer, registered trademark agent, and trained mediator. You may reach Steven at (204) 957-8304 or by email at stevenraber@fillmoreriley.com.

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