Unsolicited reminders about renewal of IP rights

We have recently become aware of organisations that are sending out unsolicited reminders about renewal of IP rights.  They cover patents, designs and trade marks and are usually sent to the IP owner a long time in advance of the renewal deadline.  The reminders tend to quote a very large amount for renewal, quite out of proportion to the official fees. For example, one reminder we have seen recently quotes an amount of £963 for a renewal of a UK patent where the official fee is only £70.

Reading the small print, signing up for their service authorises them to send invoices for the remainder of the life of the IP right.  Also, the reminders may not be correct about when the renewal fees are payable. An example we have seen says that in the UK renewal fees are payable while a patent application is pending, whereas in fact they are only payable after the UK patent has been granted.

Of course, renewal is important to make sure that an IP right is not lost.  If we send you reminders, the first one will normally reach you about three months before the renewal date for patents and designs, and about six months before for trade marks.  It is also possible that you may receive an official notice about renewal from the official patent and trade mark offices, such as the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO), the European Patent Office, or OHIM, which is the office that grants Community registered designs and Community trade marks. 

If you receive an unsolicited reminder then we suggest that you are cautious, and check it out with us. Your usual contact will be happy to advise you in relation to anything you are doubtful about.

It is also possible to check on various official websites to see if it is a known problem.  The UK IPO has a warning page which gives information on what to look out for.  Similar pages can be found on the website of the World Intellectual Property Organisation and on the OHIM website in respect of trademarks and designs.