Recently, trade-mark owners have been experiencing an increased amount of “trade-mark trolls” in the form of mail or email scam notices.  Scam notices closely resemble notices sent from a governmental organization, such as the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (“CIPO”), and describes the trade-mark, the owner, and the application or registration number accurately, which often leads the recipient to believe the correspondence is official.  In fact, scammers can easily obtain the correct trade-mark application or registration information as such information is accessible online by searching CIPO’s Trade-marks Database which is available to the public.

A scam notice typically requires the recipient pay a small fee to avoid losing trade-mark rights.  Specifically, the recipient is often urged to pay a fee by an upcoming deadline related to either the “publication” of the trade-mark or the renewal of a trade-mark registration that is indicated to be near expiry.

The correspondence is sent directly to the trade-mark owner and not to the trade-mark owner’s agent of record.  However, correspondence from CIPO is always sent to the agent of record, not the trade-mark owner.

Trade-mark owners are not the only target of these kinds of scams.  Similar scam notices are also sent to patent owners and domain name owners. Samples of scam notices can be found on CIPO’s website.

If you receive any correspondence or invoice related to your trade-marks, patents, or domain names, it is advisable that you consult your lawyer or trade-mark/patent agent before making any payment. If you want to set-up a trade-mark please contact Sandy Song.

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