11 November 2015Trademarks

IPEC dishes out maximum £500k fine to bogus IPO

The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IP EC) has handed out the maximum £500,000 ($758,000) fine to an agency that was passing itself off as the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

The Intellectual Property Agency was found to have been deceiving trademark owners making them believe it was the IPO. In a judgment handed down yesterday, November 10, the IPA was found liable for trademark infringement and passing off.

Harri Mattias Jonasson, director of the agency, issued renewal notices to IP owners stating that their rights were due to expire. Jonasson charged IP owners six times the amount required by the IPO.

The IPO charges £200 for the first class of goods and services that a trademark covers and £50 for each class after that.

The case was heard on September 29. As well as the £500,000 in damages the IPEC also awarded the IPO legal costs.

Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe, the UK’s IP minister, said she welcomed the “ stiff sanctions”.

“Deliberately misleading consumers into thinking they are engaging with an official government agency is a very serious matter,” she said.

“Such representations of this kind will not be tolerated and with the help of the IPO we take the issue of protecting IP seriously across government,” she added.

Chris McLeod, president of the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, said it is “important to crack down on companies and individuals who deliberately try to mislead and deceive the public”.

He advised all IP owners who receive an invoice from an “unusual source” to seek help from a registered attorney.

“Registered trademark attorneys can detect fraudulent invoices and correspondence at a glance. Our members regularly advise their clients on unsolicited letters, which usually have little or no connection to genuine trademark protection,” he added.

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