Slamming is the coined expression for the deceptive practices used by certain unscrupulous individuals and entities to persuade businesses and in particular trade mark owners to purchase unsolicited services. This practice is not new and is particular common in the fields of telecommunications and IP.
In relation to trade marks, slamming often takes the form of a false request for payment of fees sent to registered trade mark owners. Such invoices are set out on what looks to be the headed note of an existing IP office, using logos and names which are confusingly similar. Another common practice is for the scammer to warn a trade mark owner that a one of its “clients” has just instructed it to file a similar or identical trade mark in their jurisdiction, with the aim of persuading the owner to file, often unnecessarily, their trade mark in this country.
A new scam has recently been identified in China. Chinese trade mark agents have been sending emails or faxes to trade mark owners warning them of the recent filing of an identical trade mark by a third party. They claim that it is possible to file a “prior” trade mark application in order to preempt this third party application.
Such a procedure does not, of course, exist in Chinese law and the only options available to the trade mark owner are to file an opposition within the three months following the publication of the application or to bring cancellation action upon registration of the mark.
If you receive such an invoice or warning, you should deal with it with utmost caution and we invite you to contact us.
A non-exhaustive list of unofficial requests of payment of fees which have been brought to the attention of WIPO is available at the following address: http://www.wipo.int/pct/en/warning/pct_warning.htm