I felt very pleased with myself that I’ve registered “Matter Solutions” using TM Headstart with IP Australia and so we’re well on the way to this phrase becoming a trade marked term for use by my web development company.
The problem is that as a normal part of the process my company’s contact details are published along with the trade mark details. This is all good really except that I’ve started to receive dodgy junk mail which look like invoices. So far I have received two (I’ll keep this updated)…
1. GAIA almanach – USD1,650
The details above give you a sample registration. In case of acceptance of the offer for registration and listing in the Publication 2009 of “GAIA almanach”, we kindly ask you to pay the sum for the activation and registration in advance, by remitting a cheque or by remitting a bank draft. The fact of transferring the amount indicated means automatical approval of our offer. After printing you will receive one complimentary copy.
If your details change, kindly inform us per e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also get more information on this address.
And then in equally dodgy French.
Automatical….? Nice word.
I pity anyone who doesn’t check their post and accidentally sends these illiterate people money.
2. TM Collection – USD1,650
Left mentioned data constitute a sample registration. By transfering the amount indicated, you approve this offer for listing in the TM-Collection – Edition 2009. In case of any changes, kindly inform us per e-mail (email@example.com). After printing you will receive a complimentary copy of the publication. Above sum is payable in advance, by remitting a cheque, or by money transfer.
And again written in shocking French.
Can you spot the similarities? They are basically the same prose, the give-away is of course the same mistakes.
So undoubtedly they are scammers…. but to be sure and work out how much effort they’ve put in I visited the websites in the footer of each. Both are pretty similarly shabby, shockingly slow to load and include various atrocities in English grammar.
A whois shows that GAIA Almanach’s office address is very close to, or one and the same as, for the website designer credited on their website, webshark.hu (I won’t link to them)
Economical for scammer..?
A small letter like this would cost $2.05 (that’s AUD) right now thats $1.32 (in USD), click here to ask google (new window). I have no desire to learn Hungarian and wouldn’t know where to start with trying so I’m assuming that the postal service in Hungary costs the same (hey I don’t have all day)….
BREAK EVEN: 1 “SALE” in 1250 ( = 1650/1.32 )
I just count myself lucky that I do my own accounts at the moment. My wife who normally does them is very busy getting ready for our new baby, she’s good but with “pregnancy brain” she might have accidentally paid them!
Make sure your accounts team look out for dodgy post especially when you register a trade mark.
As a small business that is growing I can highly recommend the online accounting system built by SAASU – at saasu.com – you can use it to make sure all payable amounts must have a purchase order number…. i.e. no payments go out without one…. this would stop dodgy invoices in their tracks.
I imagine these Hungarian trade mark scammers are targeting companies all over the world not just Australia. It is clearly economically viable for them to scam people so take care.
Leave a comment if they’ve hit you too.
IP AUSTRALIA’s OFFICIAL WARNING
My searches turned up this document at IP Australia: TRADEMARK APPLICATION KIT (pdf) It includes the following (on page 20)
Warning — unofficial register/services
Trade mark owners may be sent unsolicited documents from companies
which offer, for a fee, to register trade mark information for the
implied purpose of protecting trade mark rights. Some of these
companies identify themselves as
◗ Globus Edition SL, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
◗ Company for Economic Publications Ltd, Vienna, Austria
◗ IT & TAG, Switzerland
◗ Company for Publications and Information Anstalt,
◗ INFOCOM, Schaan, Switzerland
◗ Edition The Marks KFT
◗ International Bureau for Federated Trademark & Patent
◗ Gaia Almanach LTD
◗ Commercial Centre for Industry and Trade, Switzerland
◗ European Institute for Economy and Commerce EIEC, Belgium
◗ Institute of Commerce, Trade and Commerce, Switzerland
◗ TM Collection, Hungary
◗ ZDR – Daten register GmbH, Germany
◗ Register of International Patents and Trademarks (RIPT)
These companies are sending documents resembling invoices to trade
mark owners which offer ‘entry’ of trade mark details in an annual
publication. They are usually sent after the trade mark details have
been advertised in the Official Journal.
These companies are not associated with IP Australia and have no
official or governmental authority. The service they offer does not
provide official trade mark registration or trade mark rights in
Australia or any other country.