PCT Billing Scam Stopped by Florida Attorney General

Geneva, December 21, 2009

A Florida-based company (“Federated Institute for Patent and Trademark Registry”) was this month found to have violated the state's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act by sending out by mass mail misleading “invoices” to patent and trademark applicants—including users of WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) which facilitates the process of seeking international patent protection.

The offending company was requesting payment for a service which in fact had no value. WIPO was pleased to cooperate with the Florida authorities in this case. During the trial, a WIPO PCT expert provided testimony about the misleading nature of the invitations and the harm suffered by PCT applicants.

WIPO has consistently warned users of its international filing and registration services - which facilitate the process of protecting patents, trademarks and designs in multiple countries - about the existence of these deceptive practices.

In recent months, WIPO has witnessed a general rise in Internet scams involving various fraudulent schemes implying association with WIPO including fake offers of employment at WIPO, training courses and e-mail prize awards. Many of these scams request detailed information and/or money, in connection with supposed registration fees, hotel reservations, employment opportunities, prizes or awards. They sometimes carry the WIPO logo, a photograph of the WIPO Director General and originate from, or refer to, e-mail addresses that resemble those of WIPO or the United Nations.  

Recipients are warned to exercise vigilance and not to send any money or any personal or professional information, including bank account details, in response to them.  Any such cases should be reported to local law enforcement authorities for appropriate action and, when it relates to WIPO international filing and registration services, to the appropriate WIPO sector for its information and action.  Recipients of mailings which make reference to offers of WIPO employment, etc., may also contact WIPO's Human Resources Management Department directly at +41 22 338 91 11 if there is any doubt about the authenticity of such requests.

Last week’s judgment in Florida is a promising step toward curbing this fraudulent and deceptive practice.

For more information, please contact the News and Media Division at WIPO:
  • Tel: (+41 22) 338 81 61 / 338 72 24
  • E-mail