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05 November 2012
Trademark owners are increasingly receiving letters drafted to look like official letters that offer registration of international trademarks with the letterhead "Register of International Patents and Trademarks" and that quote the recipient's trademark.
At the bottom of such letters is a message in small print bearing the following disclaimer (or a similar message):
"We offer to include your Trademark in our private International Service- and Trademark Directory, please notice that this registration has not any connection with the publication of official registrations and is not a registration by a government organisation."
This message is often followed by a detailed specification of terms and conditions, also in small print, that mentions that the sender "is not affiliated or associated with USPTO [US Patent and Trademark Office] or of the European Office for Patents and Trademarks".
It is obvious to specialists that such offers are misleading, as the International Register for Patents and Trademarks and the European Office for Patents and Trademarks do not exist and the inclusion in a private trademark directory makes little sense. However, many trademark owners do not realise that the senders are impostors.
With the aim of protecting trademark owners, the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office and the Hungarian Trademark Association organised a panel earlier this year in which this scam was discussed. Although such offer letters are usually mailed from abroad and drafted in English, the panel concluded that they contravene Section 3(1) of the Act on Unfair Commercial Practice (47/2008) and it is therefore advisable to inform the Hungarian Authority for the Protection of Consumers about them. As the act was introduced on the basis of the EU Directive against Unfair Commercial Practices, the authority must in turn inform the sender's national authority.
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