Beware Fake Agencies

Intellectual Property Mirkwood Evans Vincent

If your business has an intellectual property registration in the UK, you may have received letters from one or more “agencies” with a name, which looks surprisingly similar to the “UK Intellectual Property Office” telling you that your registration is about to expire and that you need to pay money to avoid your registration being cancelled. The letters are not genuine and in fact you do not owe the money they claim that you do.

In the case of Comptroller-General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks and another v Intellectual Property Agency Ltd and another (2015) EWHC 3256 IPEC, the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court ruled on 10th November 2015 that letters using the name “Intellectual Property Agency Ltd” were designed to confuse recipients into believing they had received a notice from the UK Intellectual Property Office, and that the senders were guilty of trade mark infringement and passing off. This is no more than commonsense. We think in addition to putting these scammers out of business, it is also important to warn businesses to be alert to this kind of fraudulent behaviour.

Bear in mind also that businesses with IPR registrations are not the only targets for the scammers. Clients have also contacted us about a number of fake letters asking for money to renew UK data protection registrations. Remember that the fees for data protection registration in the UK are either £35 (smaller businesses) or £500 (larger businesses). If you receive a letter asking for any other sum, it is not from the Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”). If you receive one and are feeling public spirited, contact the ICO. Otherwise just put it in the bin. Either way, make sure nobody in your business