Travel companies are being warned to watch out for bogus letters or emails asking for up to £1,000 to register their trademark.
The fraudsters are targeting holiday firms that have already submitted applications to register their trademarks in the UK.
Travel companies receive letters from organisations in the US, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Liechtenstein asking for anythingfrom £100 to £1,000to register their trademarks on registers or databases. However, these registers are unofficial and there is no obligation to pay.
Irwin Mitchell head of intellectual property Joanne Bone said the hoax was not new, but had become more prevalent in the past 18 months.
“The fraudsters must be getting some cash from it as there has been a lot more activityrecently. It could be as people take their business internationally they become more vulnerable, as there seems to beno reason why they should not take it seriously.
“People who used a lawyer for the trademarking process tend to ring them to check it’s valid. However, smaller companies who do it themselves could be taken in.”
Teletext Holidays has received several of these invoices, including one asking for €1,500 to register its inluxury brand. Head of compliance Barry Gooch said: “We receive quite a few of these but we have the processes in place to spot that they are fake.
“Travel companies might not be aware of this scam although it has been around for a while. Unsuspecting companies may assume they are part of the official trade market registration process and be duped into making unnecessary payments.”
The UK Intellectual Property office handles up to 15 enquiries a month from companies who have received one of these letters.
Travel firms who receive a letter regarding trademarks are advised to check carefully what services it is offering, and if it has come from an official source.