WIPO has admitted that potentially infringing use of its name and logo has increased since its corporate rebrand earlier this year. The frequency of scams and fraud committed against Madrid system users has reached a plateau, but potentially infringing websites are still live and trademark owners are still receiving fraudulent invoices.

"This activity has definitely increased and is varied in form," confirmed Christine Castro Hublin, head of WIPO's legal and constitutional affairs section. "The types of scam that we noticed in the last few months all imply association with WIPO in one way or another. For example, we see fake offers of employment, misleading notices for Madrid users and invoices for services that have no value."  Alleged frauds sometimes offer services not provided by WIPO, most notably domain name services.

One site causing concern over potential confusion belongs to the World Intellectual Property Database (as reported by Erik Pelton), which uses a logo very similar to the new WIPO logo unveiled by Geneva in April, and claims to be “an organisation whose task is to manage the world database falling within the area of intellectual property, in particular patents and trademarks”. WTR contacted the Czech Republic-based registrant for 'wipd.biz' but there was no reply.

               WIPO logo                                                                        WIPD logo          

The increase in allegedly fraudulent and misleading activity has coincided with WIPO's modernisation programme. Although no data exists to suggest a link, it is understandable that third parties would try to free ride on WIPO's improving image as a modern organisation.

Every organisation is now threatened by such activity, but it is particularly embarrassing for WIPO to fall prey to scammers. That said, because online attacks target modern, web-based organisations, this problem at least proves to some degree that WIPO's modernisation programme is working.


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