–Dan Kelly, Attorney
On a regular basis, we receive inquiries from clients about IP-related solicitations that they receive from third parties relating to things like renewing trademark registrations and domain names. Typical solicitations are one-pagers with a patina of legitimacy, referencing a particular IP asset, the owner, then usually ending with the punch line of requesting a fee or payment for “registration” or some other official-sounding service. (Example here.)
The Domain Name Strategy Blog (which you can now access at both domainnamestrategy.com and domainstrategy.com) wrote recently about a solicitation that they received from a company calling itself WIPD, an acronym for “World Intellectual Property Database.” Some of you may know that there is a rather large organization in Europe called WIPO, or “World Intellectual Property Organization,” which is a U.N. organization that facilitates (or attempts to facilitate) an international IP system. WIPO is a well-known and generally trusted organization in IP circles.
Below is a partial screen shot of the header on WIPO’s home page. WIPO is the genuine article, the real deal.
Now here is a partial screen shot of the header from a WIPD solicitation:
The WIPD website is only a slightly less egregious ripoff of WIPO’s website. Hit the jump to see those side-by-side.
WIPO is aware of this scam, as well as many others. (See here.) This has not stopped WIPD from including a warning in its solicitations that “It has come to the attention of WIPD, Trademark owner [sic] are receiving invitations to pay fees that do not come from World Intellectual Property Database . . .” Here’s the full warning:
The bad guys are out there, folks. Watch out for scams, and make sure your IP protections are up to snuff wherever you think that you may need them.