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Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Support our Shireen!

Last week, in what appeared to be a matter of relatively minor interest, the IPKat's friend Shireen Smith (Azrights) issued a Tweet which read:

“Today 3 clients contacted me about a demand for £573.40 which they’ve received from Community Trade Mark Filing service of Liverpool. Scams”.

Right: trade mark professionals turn out in their thousands to support Shireen

Shireen's statement was picked up here by Class 46, but now it seems that this issue has escalated. Shireen has since received a letter threatening both her and Azrights with defamation proceedings on the basis that this statement was “highly defamatory and/or malicious falsehood designed to damage the reputation of our company in the market place". CTMFDS was seeking, among other things, an apology, and proposal for payment of damages, failing which they said they would be issuing proceedings. Says Shireen:
"Why a company that chooses a name like Community Trade Mark Service (designed to sound like it is an official body) and style of approach involving the sending pro forma invoices as a way of promoting its trade mark filing service (of converting the UK application to a European trade mark) would object in these terms to the use of the word SCAM to describe their activity is amazing. If 3 clients in one morning get in touch, all wondering whether they have to pay this company, or whether it is a scam, then it’s a scam. The fact that some kind of service is offered in return to those who engage with the company, knowingly or unknowingly, does not alter the fact that it is an attempt to intentionally mislead a person….. with the goal of financial or other gain. It is also clear from the company’s FAQ pages that they are fully aware of the confusion their style of operating engenders".
You can read the rest of Shireen's highly pertinent comments here. Says the IPKat, Shireen has taken a brave and courageous stand and deserves both our respect and our support.

9 comments:

Steve Jones said...

I first came across this outfit just yesterday, when a client called to ask why he had to pay this money after he had been advised (by us) that there would be no further charges in connection with his trade mark registration.

He faxed a copy to me, and after I explained the situation to him, he was appalled. As he himself commented, recipients of such a communication would assume, as he had done, that it was a demand for a payment that needed to be made in order to maintain his rights, and many would simply pay up.

Whether by design or otherwise, the communication from CTMFS was misinterpreted by the client.

When I first spoke to the client, I guessed that he had received one of the all-too-familiar rogue directory scams, and it was only after reading the small print that I realised what was really going on.

Anonymous said...

We have received calls from clients also confused by receipt of these CTMFDS 'pro-formas'. To the untrained eye they are designed to look exactly like an invoice coming from an Official source. The fact that CTMFDS print some tiny, tiny text that says otherwise doesn't alter the client's perception of this notice - they are designed to confuse and con people out of money which they mightn't ordinarily pay.

Filemot said...

Could this be considered
21. Including in marketing material an invoice or similar document seeking payment which gives the consumer the impression that he has already ordered the marketed product when he has not.
This is in all circumstances an unfair commercial practice under
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know who the company Switch Media PLC are? It would appear that they share the same address as CTMFDS (or ECTMF to use their other name) and the same fax machine. From a Google cached search, ECTMF would actually file the CTM application with OHIM but CTMFS do not even do this.

Anonymous said...

I assume UKIPO can take action for the infringement of its database rights

Anonymous said...

Not sure this would be a substantial part of the database.

But whatever the best way to go about it, surely the "IPKat community" can try to do something about this?

Gerontius said...

I would be extremely concerned if obtaining and using this data, which the UKIPO is obliged to make public by law, would be an infringement of database rights.

The only terms of use for the data on the IPO website are that nobody should make excessive bulk downloads which degrade the quality of the service for other users.

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/disclaimer.htm

AJ said...

I think you can subscribe to data from UKIPO, both back data (historic) and front data (ongoing publications).

Having said that, i'm stuggling to think of ANY business model initiated by an unsolicited pro-forma invoice that's not a "scam".

Bennet Woodcroft said...

There's plenty of background on the IP Confidential blog at http://ip-confidential.blogspot.com/ if

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