|The official DPMA logo
The German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) has successfully challenged a company that was sending out misleading invoices. A representative of the DPMA shared details of the case at the Anti-Scam Network meeting held in Alicante last month, at which MARQUES was represented.
The DPMA discovered the fraud when a representative informed the Office that the "Deutsche Domain-Namen und Marken" (DEDM) (www.de-dm.de) and the "German Domain & Trademark Office" (GDTO) (www.gdto.de / www.gd-to.com) were offering the registration of domains and trade marks on their website. They were also using a similar logo to the DPMA, with an incorrect illustration of the Federal Eagle and the official German flag.
The two websites have been added to the warning list of sites sending misleading invoices. They were subsequently put up for sale.
This is not the first time the DPMA has successfully taken action against misleading invoices. In another case, individuals who were sending fake invoices for trade mark renewals were convicted.
In that case, in 2009 a group of Swedish people founded a network of sham companies consisting of the Nationales Markenregister AG (based in Belize (Central America) and the Commonwealth of Dominica), the “umbrella organisation” named European Trademark Organisation S.A. and the International Payment Solutions Europe AB, which is responsible for payment transactions.
These companies, together with accomplices, ran a business model based on the sending of misleading invoices in connection with trade mark renewals. In letters looking similar to invoices, they requested trade mark applicants to pay a renewal fee of €1,590, even though the renewal fee of the DPMA was only €750.
The Nationales Markenregister AG had the trade marks extended at the DPMA and retained the difference between the claimed amount and the amount of the fee which paid to the DPMA. From June 2009 to November 2012, the criminal gang obtained at least €1 million at the expense of at least 800 injured parties.
On the basis of numerous criminal charges, including those filed by the DPMA, the Staatsanwaltschaft München (public prosecutor’s office in Munich) started investigations. Since 2009, there have been final convictions of various accomplices during criminal proceedings, in which employees of the DPMA had also testified as witnesses.
The main perpetrators were finally arrested in Riga and Stockholm at the beginning of 2018 under a European arrest warrant. One of them tried to evade immediate arrest.
After their extradition to Germany, the main perpetrators were convicted of commercial and organised fraud in Munich in April 2018. They were given suspended prison sentences and fines.
Willem Leppink, Chair of the MARQUES Anti-Fraud Task Force, attended the 4th Anti-Scam Network Meeting in Alicante. He said that MARQUES welcomes the convictions in Germany: “Scam invoices are a growing concern and we already see the impact of actions taken in the Network in trying to reduce this form of crime, including MARQUES’s earlier involvement in the Uppsala case that led to serious convictions, including long prison sentences.”
Read more about the Uppsala case in this Class 46 blog post.
Thanks to the DPMA for sharing the above information with MARQUES