The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has warned that some businesses have reported receiving unsolicited ‘official-looking’ reminders, often in the form of an invoice, from one or more companies offering to renew their trade marks for fees greatly in excess of the official renewal fees. However, the companies sending them out are not linked to the IPO in any way.
The IPO is the only official body that issues reminders for the renewal of a UK Intellectual Property right. Reminders are sent directly to the registered rights holder or their official representatives. For granted patents, the official renewal reminder is sent approximately six weeks after the date on which the patent should have been renewed (see a sample). For registered trade marks and designs, the official renewal reminder is sent approximately three months before the renewal payment is due (see a sample).
Other services being offered are entry in official-sounding publications or registers and filing for EU-wide trade mark protection.
Details of all UK applications and granted patents and also registered trade marks and designs are automatically entered into the official IPO registers. In addition, the European Patent Office, the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) all operate similar official registers which automatically record all applications and granted patents and registered trade marks and designs filed with them directly or through the IPO.
As regards applying for a Community Trade Mark based on the data present in your UK application, there is no obligation for you to do so. If you do wish to gain European protection for your trademarks, you can apply to the OHIM directly. For further information, see the IPO website.
If you receive an unsolicited invoice, do not settle it unless you have checked carefully to see what services are being offered and whether it has come from an official source. Any misleading request for payment can be reported by email to the IPO information centre.