It has come to the attention of the International Bureau that PCT applicants and agents are receiving invitations to pay fees that do not come from the International Bureau of WIPO and are unrelated to the processing of international applications under the PCT. Whatever registration services might be offered in such invitations, they bear no connection to WIPO or to any of its official publications.
The invitations often identify a particular PCT application by its international publication number (eg: WO 02 xxxxxx), publication date, title of the invention, international application number, priority information and IPC symbols; examples of such invitations can be viewed below.
WIPD – Registration of International Patents Intellectual Property Office
Published on January 4, 2016
Search Index Registration Department - Registration of International Patent
Published on December 19, 2014
IBFTPR - International Bureau for Federated Trademark & Patent Register
Published on November 21,2007
Register of International Patent Bulletin/Registre des données bulletin européen des brevetes
Published on September 5, 2003
Institut of Commerce for Industry, Trade, Commerce/Wirtschaftsinstitut für Industrie, Handel, Handwerk AG
Published on September 5, 2003
Invitation not listed here? E-mail us a copy
Mitigating this unscrupulous practice
- WIPO invites its customers to use and adapt this standard text to notify applicants and inventors about such fee requests. [WORD]
- Circular letter addressed by WIPO Director General, Francis Gurry to all PCT Contracting States and Regional Organizations.
How to make a complaint?
WIPO works closely with its member States with the goal of putting an end to this fraudulent practice, and has assembled the following list of government authorities and consumer protection associations which assist applicants in enforcing local laws against the purveyors of these invoices. Complaints can be filed through the websites listed in the various countries.
Filing a complaint enables investigations to begin, which may in turn result in legal action against these entities. To facilitate the making of a complaint, you may consider using the following sentence:
“I request that these unsolicited invoices be investigated and any corrective legal action, including civil or criminal proceedings, be taken based on a contravention of the applicable laws on unfair business practice, unfair competition and general criminal law.”
A scanned copy of the fraudulent invoice received, plus any further evidence, should also be attached. In the past, WIPO has provided expert testimony at trial, describing the harm caused by this practice and the lack of value of the services provided, and is willing to continue to support applicants in this way.
Successful legal actions
WIPO works closely with its member States with the goal of putting an end to this fraudulent practice, and has assembled the following list of judgments against certain entities.
PCT applicants and agents have informed the International Bureau that some of these requests to pay fees are being sent in envelopes which appear to bear the WIPO/OMPI logo and the address of the organization. Please carefully review all such requests. The services which are being offered in these invitations do not come from WIPO.
The invitations typically refer to a payment, which is to be made in euro or US dollars, by cheque and/or money transfer to addresses in:
- AT: Austria; CH: Switzerland; CY: Cyprus; CZ: Czechia; CN(HK): Hong Kong; DE: Germany; DK: Denmark; ES: Spain; GB: United Kingdom; IS: Iceland; PL: Poland; SK: Slovakia; US: United States of America
Other industrial property Offices have made similar warnings
- AT: Austrian Patent Office (in German)
- AU: Australian Patent Office
- CA: Canadian Intellectual Property Office
- CH: Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property
- CZ: Industrial Property Office (Czechia)
- DE: German Patent and Trade Mark Office (in German)
- EM: Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trademarks and Designs) (OHIM)
- EP: European Patent Office
- FR: National Institute of Industrial Property (France)
- GB: United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office
- IE: Patents Office (Ireland)
- IL: Israel Patent Office (in Hebrew)
- JP: Japan Patent Office (in Japanese)
- NZ: Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand
- US: United States Patent and Trademark Office
The sending of these notices appears to not be restricted to the patent context; within WIPO, the administration of the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks has placed a general warning on its website in relation to such invitations to pay fees.