It has long been the practice of some companies to data mine records of the Australian and international patent, trade mark and design registers, and offer to list or publish that information for a fee. IP Australia has tried to prevent consumers from being duped with warning letters and has created a page on their website highlighting the issue. IP Australia has also recently taken steps to prevent data mining of their databases by hiding ‘address for service’ details so that they are not easily indexed by search engines or web crawlers. However, the practice continues.
Prosecution of individuals associated with these ‘scam’ companies in Australia has not been attempted. Their letters and fine print, while looking official and like an invoice, are carefully worded to state that they are not official registers and that the letter isn’t an invoice.
Pleasingly, this did not deter the Swedish Government who took action against six individuals of OMIH Trademarks and Designs Registration Office. In June, a Swedish court found the six individuals guilty of various offences, including attempted fraud and aiding and abetting attempted fraud. Some received jail sentences up to a year in length.
We can only hope it is the beginning of the end of these types of registers. In the meantime, if you are concerned about the legitimacy of a communication you have received, please check it against our list of unofficial registers on our website at www.pof.com.au/about-ip/unofficialregisters or contact us at email@example.com.