Issuers of Fake Invoices Put Behind Bars
Trademark and design applicants have been plagued by fake invoices for years. The “business idea” of those who issue fake invoices is to bill trademark and design register services, such as publication or registration of an application. Thus, the fake invoice wrongly implies that it is issued by an official register and the amount indicated on the invoice is a state fee for a registry operation. For example, fraudsters use names similar to official names like the World Trademark Organization, the Intellectual Property Services Organization, etc. On the other hand, the fake invoices state in the tiny script that payment of the invoice is voluntary and, therefore, it has been difficult to close down the fake invoice “business”. Estonian entrepreneurs have also fallen victim to fraudsters.
An iconic court judgment against issuers of fake invoices recently came from Sweden. The Stockholm Court of Appeals was discussing a criminal case where the scammers were accused of sending fake invoices to trademark owners in the European Union. The court found the defendants guilty of fraud, sentenced them to imprisonment and ordered to compensate the persons who paid the fake invoices. Two leaders of a fraudulent group were sentenced to 4 years and 8 months, and 2 years and 9 months in prison respectively.
We at KÄOSAAR always inform our clients that fees for applications are only paid through our office, and recommend ignoring potential fake invoices.