Bogus Invoice Schemes

  
     
September 18, 2013

Bogus Invoice Schemes

Better Business Bureau is aware of at least two invoicing schemes that are targeting businesses across British Columbia.

BBB has received a number of inquiries concerning a company called Trademark Info Corporation. Business owners who have a Canadian registered trade-mark have received what appears to be an invoice from this company which provides detailed information about the company's federally registered trade-mark. This invoice is in no way connected to renewing a trade-mark in Canada, which once registered does not require a renewal for 15 years under Federal law. 

The invoice claims in small print that "The Trade-mark Publication provides the name of the holder of brand and product names on the internet. It contains only paid, registered tradenames and designs with their CIPO registration numbers and categories. To enable publishing of your trade-mark listed as shown, send your payment (...)" The payment requested is $1,615.00.

Trademark Info Corp. is only offering a form of advertising, so read the fine print before paying any invoice.

Canada has a single, federal registration system for trade-marks administered by the CIPO where the CIPO is responsible for the administration and processing of intellectual property in Canada. The office of the Registrar of Trade-marks is the governing authority on matters relating to trade-marks. 

Registering a trade-mark provides a business proof of ownership.  A trade-mark provides exclusive rights across Canada for 15 years and may be renewed indefinitely after the 15 year period, and prevents others from using a confusingly similar trade-mark. Registry also allows for licensing of a trade-mark.

There is no requirement to register a trade-mark because using a mark for a certain period of time can establish ownership of the mark under common law.

To register a trade-mark, an owner must fill a properly prepared trade-mark application with the Canadian Trade-marks Office. The CIPO recommends first carrying out a preliminary search of existing trade-marks to verify whether the trade-mark could be confused with another trade-mark which is already registered. 

To search the Canadian Trade-marks Database, go to: http://www.ic.gc.ca/app/opic-cipo/trdmrks/srch/tmSrch.do?lang=eng. 

For more information on trademarks and registration of trademarks, visit the Canadian Intellectual Property Office website at www.cipo.ic.gc.ca or call 1-866-997-1936.

 

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As a small business owner have you received an official looking invoice from what appears to be the Yellow Pages?  This scam continues to gain steam despite numerous investigations and enforcement actions taken by the US and Canadian authorities.   The “walking fingers logo” and the Yellowpages name have no copyright or trademark protection, making it easy for scammers to make it appear legitimate. If you receive an invoice like this, you should request additional information from the solicitor and check with your local Yellow Pages for affiliation.  If you have been a victim of this type of scam, contact our Investigations Specialist Gisele@mbc.bbb.org.