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Scam Renewal Letters branded “Misleading”

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In a first strike against the scammers who pester IP owners with fake renewal reminder letters, the ASA has forced one to change its misleading tactics.

The Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint made by a company called NBC Bird & Pest Solutions Ltd against Trademark Renewal Services Ltd, over an unsolicited trade mark renewal reminder it received which created the impression that it came from the UK IPO.

London based Trademark Renewal Services sent NBC a very formal looking “reminder” letter which invited it to pay £760 to renew its trade mark, warning that it was about to expire. The ASA decided that the letter was misleading, and ordered Trademark Renewal Services to change it.

Letters like that issued by Trademark Renewal Services have become an increasing menace in recent years.  Both patent and trade mark owners have been targeted by a number of purported providers of IP services, which offer a variety of either pointless or overpriced services.

These scam letters have been sent to many BWR clients, and in many cases that have initially believed them to be official communications to which they must respond. Once informed of the true nature of these letters our clients have invariably expressed their disgust at them.

In every case the letters are deliberately designed to look official, in the hope that busy business professionals will be caught out and will authorising payment. This is most likely with a trade mark renewal, as this comes 10 years after the mark was registered, and the recipient may not know or remember who originally handled the application for them.

The ASA decision may not penalise Trademark Renewal Services very much, but it does at least demonstrate that the tactics that it, and those like it, employ are unscrupulous.

The UK IPO, which presents a warning about scam letters on its website under the heading “Don’t Pay Unnecessary Costs”, also welcomed the ASA’s decision. It said in a press release: “This decision reinforces our advice to customers. If you receive an unsolicited invitation, DO NOT PAY IT until you have checked to see what services are being offered and if it is from an official source. These companies are not linked to any Government or Community institution - you are NOT obliged to pay their fees. If you receive a misleading invoice, we'd like to hear about it.” Here here!

For more information on trademarks and why you should file a trademark application for you business, visit the trademarks page or call 020 8600 6800 for more information.

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