Scams in intellectual property or invention scams are a type of scam in which either inventors are lured to pay money for development of their idea but the development does not occur, or investors pay money for a non existing product or for an invention never to be developed.
- Registration services
- Published warnings for different forms of IP
- PCT registration services
- Domain slamming
- Invention promotion firm scams
Intellectual property (IP) is a very complex area and covers a vast range of diverse subjects. As a result, there are opportunities for unscrupulous individuals and organizations to take advantage of those wishing to secure protection for their IP.
Registration services are organizations or individuals that contact IP applicants or owners and request payment for an apparently official registration of their IP.
Many applicants for and owners of patents, trademarks and industrial design rights receive letters from such registration services and different IP offices and organizations around the world regularly issue warnings in connection with the offered services.
The registration services target applicants directly because patent, trademark and design applications are published a set time after filing or upon grant along with freely available information about a name and address for the applicant. Registration services use this information to send requests for payment to applicants shortly after publication. The documents are confusing as they appear to be from official governmental agencies and to be legitimate invoices.
A scam increasing in frequency, as of October 2011, is an email originating from a domain name registrar or IT consulting company based in China that purports to notify a trademark holder that another entity is seeking to register the client’s trademark or business name as a domain name in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Asia. The email gives the brand owner a short period in time in which to secure the domain name for their own. These notifications are essentially solicitations. Generally, in the event there really is a third-party who is seeking to register your brand name for nefarious purposes, there are channels available for addressing such uses if and when they materialize.
Published warnings for different forms of IP
PCT registration services
Registration services are known to target applicants of international patent applications. The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has issued a warning about several of these services, including:
Domain slamming is a form of scam in which an internet service provider (ISP) or domain name registrar attempts to trick customers of different companies into switching from their existing ISP/registrar to the scamming ISP/registrar, under the pretense that the customer is simply renewing their subscription to their old ISP/registrar.
Invention promotion firm scams
An inventor promotion scam or invention promotion scam is a scam where inventors are lured to pay money for development of their invention, or promotion of it, without the development or promotion actually occurring.
Some invention promotion firms have been found to engage in improper and deceptive practices.
Signs of an unscrupulous invention promotion firm include: