The agency who passed itself off as the IPO demanded money from IP holders. The agency traded as the “Intellectual Property Agency Ltd (IPA)- very similar to the UK IPO!. The director- Harri Mattias Jonasson based in Stockholm- Sweden deliberately targeted intellectual property rights owners by sending out scam renewal notices.
These scam renewal notices gave the impression that IPA was the IPO or connected with it. Thus IPA was able to persuade Intellectual property owners of trademarks and patents to instruct it to renew their respective intellectual property rights at a cost of up to six times the official renewal fees.
IPA initially offered to negotiate and mediate with the IPO, however they were unwilling to provide the legal undertakings in full that were required by the IPO. Consequently IPA filed a defence at the IPEC.
IPA have now been found guilty for trademark infringement and passing off and as such have been ordered to pay and ordered to pay £500,000 plus legal costs. This is the maximum financial award that is possible from the IPEC.
IP Minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe made the following comments: “I welcome this judgment and the stiff sanctions. Deliberately misleading consumers into thinking that they are engaging with an official government agency, is a very serious matter. Such misrepresentations of this kind will not be tolerated and with the help of the IPO we take the issue of protecting IP seriously across government. We are also working with the City of London Police Fraud Team to combat this type of behaviour. I would encourage customers to report this type of scam – invoice fraud- to the Action Fraud website.
Intellectual property holders should be aware that the only organisations which offer legal trademark and patent services in the UK are:
The UK Intellectual Property Office
European Patent Office
The Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, and:
The World Intellectual Property Organization.