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Trademark Advertising Scam – Don’t Be Fooled

 

It’s not quite like clock-work, but I get the question more than I like.

Here’s the background: Someone successfully registers a trademark in Canada or the US or Europe. Some time later — maybe several months, maybe a year — the trademark owner receives a document purporting to be an invoice, addressed to the trademark owner, that asks for a sizeable amount of money (recently, $1,530 CAD). A recent document was entitled “Trademark Publication” and in small print just below the title was the phrase: “Proposition: Publication of protected Canadian trade-marks on the internet”, followed by the contact address for the publisher.

The purported invoice goes on to prominently set out the owner’s registered trademark, and is prominently sprinkled with phrases about “Trade-mark registration”, “Registered Trade-mark”, and contains the date and registration number details about the trademark (all of which are publicly available from the relevant trademark office website).

Most recently, the purported invoice was issued by a company called Trademark Info Corp., at 157 Adelaide Street West, Suite 443, Toronto, ON M5H 4E7, though in small type there is a reference to a foreign corporation registered in Vaduz (the capital of Leichtenstein; I had to look it up). There was a working website one could go to.

What is it about the information publishing business that makes certain participants resort to these kinds of tactics? A real business would first describe what you get for what you’re being asked to pay, ask for the order, and then issue the invoice.

These guys are hoping the business owner can’t be bothered enough to read their document and will just pass it along to accounts payable for payment in due course. Or that, trademark registration being an unfamiliar area to most businesses, the business owner won’t understand that publishing a directory of trademarks doesn’t have much, if any, value.

I’ve seen these things since I first started filing trademark registrations back in the early 1990s, and they’re still going strong.

And it’s not just Canadian trademark holders that are targeted. This sort of thing goes on around the world. Here’s a similar warning from Australia.

I suppose you could pay the money and they would do what they offer to do: publish information about your mark on the internet. Big whoop. A service with no value, except to the publisher.

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INC Business Lawyers for Canadian, US and International Trademarks.