Beware of New "WIPO" Trademark Fee Scam


We have previously warned clients about fraudulent trademark registration and maintenance solicitations that have become increasingly common in recent years. The latest such scam is particularly egregious in the extent to which it mimics the name and logo of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which administers the Madrid Agreement and Protocol international trademark registration system.

An entity calling itself the World Intelligent Property Office is sending official-looking notices to trademark owners, purporting to invoice them for "registration/publication fees" for their international trademarks. In addition to the confusingly similar name, the notices bear the logo, initials and street address in Geneva of the real WIPO—the slight difference in the name is the only tip-off that all is not what it seems.WIPO Trademark Fee Scam

Both WIPO and the USPTO have suffered repeated scams like this, and both entities have placed notices on their websites to get the word out about such schemes:

WIPO Warnings

USPTO Warnings

This latest fraudulent scheme will presumably be shut down quickly, but it is a striking example of the powerful role trademarks can play in communicating source. Trademark owners are warned to carefully scrutinize any such notice or invoice you may receive—whether paper or electronic—purporting to offer (or bill for) services relating to the publication, monitoring, or maintenance of a trademark. Such services are either non-existent or worthless. Those trademark owners who are represented by counsel in registering their marks will never be billed directly by the real WIPO, USPTO, or other legitimate trademark office. If you receive such a notice or invoice, do not pay any money or reply to it, but refer it to experienced trademark counsel to check its legitimacy (or lack thereof).

Authors: Robert M. O’Connell Jr., Cynthia Johnson Walden