If you have applied for a patent, or are a company or an IP attorney, you will most likely have seen one of the many “invoices” or “notices” requesting payment. Some ask for payment to ensure that you patent application is published in a “private” database or “registered.” Most patent professionals will know that applications are never published “privately” but instead MUST be published by the appropriate national or regional Patent authority.
Most Patent Offices have posted warnings about these types of notices, including examples.
The USPTO has a page warning about the types of solicitations and how you can check to see whether or not you actually owe money.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has compiled a list with some actual letters. They also include a document to send to inventors. Furthermore, they request that you send them a copy of the actual letters you receive – so that they can keep track and show all the false letters.
Here is a sample of a letter received not long ago. As you can see, they usually try to use similar names and acronyms as well as logos.
European Patent Office (EPO) also provides a page with sample invoices.
The UK Intellectual Property Office recently wrote about post that UK businesses are receiving fraudulent invoices. The invoices have logos identical to the EPO and other European organizations, only the banking details are different. The UK IPO included some examples of the misleading invoices as well as creating an online reporting tool.
Other patent offices also have warnings with samples in a variety of languages. Check your home countries patent website.
Remember, if you’re unsure about a letter, please first ask a professional, or look at one of the websites listed above.
Have you received a letter? Please let us know. And be sure to share it with the appropriate website so that it can be logged for future reference.