Neville Micallef / LinkedIn

Neville Micallef, Scope Solutions Managing Director, has urged business leaders to be more careful when handling trademark renewals, as there are a number of deceptive letters being sent requesting payments.

Mr Micallef, who has led the local cloud-based solutions provider for the past 12 years, is vastly experienced in the areas of project and product management, and is also Co-Founder and Director of ZeroBubble, as well as Investor and Advisor at Fyorin.

Last week, he took to social media to share that Scope Solutions recently received a letter mimicking a trademark renewal from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). He warned business owners and finance teams about these letters, stating that they can easily fall prey to these forgeries, given they contain various details that are similar to official letters.

Following this, MaltaCEOs.mt reached out to Mr Micallef to find out more about this issue, together with the security threat this poses to businesses.

Scope Solutions Fake Trademark
The fake trademark renewal letter that Scope Solutions received

He recalled how a few weeks prior to the post, Scope Solutions had applied for a European trademark with the EUIPO, the EU agency that takes care of the registration of these trademarks.

“A trademark is a very effective tool for businesses to prevent third parties from using the same name for similar goods and services,” he explained.

The process of applying for a trademark is available online through a tool provided by the EUIPO itself, and Mr Micallef said that part of the process involves a credit card payment. “This completes the application process and then there is an examination and publication process by the EUIPO to register the trademark or refuse the application,” he added.

During the process, all of the details of the application form are published in a trademark register, accessible through EUIPO’s website.

Mr Micallef said that during this period, usually lasting three to six months, Scope Solutions “received a letter which gives the impression that this was sent by the EUIPO with a request for payment.” The details in the letter were correct and belong to the company, as is expected since they were copied from the company’s application found through the register, as the information is publicly available.

“However, this is a scam as it is trying to deceive applicants into thinking they need to pay again for the trademark. This seems to be a common practice and sent to all those who apply for a European trademark,” he warned.

Mr Micallef noted that at first glance and upon their first reaction, Scope Solutions’ finance team was set to submit the payment so that the registration of the trademark is not paused. “It is only with a careful understanding of the document where one realises that this is not in fact sent by the EUIPO and the money is going to a third-party account,” he explained.

He said that this is not an illegal practice due to different terms and various wording in the document or invoice, and thus this issue “cannot be reported to the police.”

Mr Micallef drew upon his experience as an IT Consultant on Intellectual Property (IP) with a local IP office and the EUIPO to “easily detect” that the aforementioned document was fake. He urged business leaders to pay close attention to certain small details such as the header, letter’s colours, disclaimer, bank details, and the method of delivery used.

“But I admit that it was so well articulated that most businesses end up paying this invoice. Awareness on this topic is definitely important,” he stressed.

Featured Image:

Scope Solutions Managing Director Neville Micallef / LinkedIn

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