The Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (CITMA) recently issued a warning to its members about scam trademark renewal letters. Representing over 1,600 trademark and design professionals, CITMA urged members to be vigilant of EU trademark and design registration renewal notice letters being sent out directly to right holders from a company called ‘Stern Young & Partners’.
Like many such right holders, the CITMA had received a ‘renewal reminder’ letter from SYP offering to renew its ‘ITMA’ trademark well ahead of time: “Our ‘ITMA’ UK trademark is not due for renewal until May 2020, so the SYP letter is well before any official UK IPO reminder. The fee being proposed is disproportionately high and inappropriately inflated above the official fees for a UK trademark renewal.”
Offering assistance with early trademark renewal for drastically inflated fees, the company calling themselves Stern Young & Partners could seem legitimate to the untrained eye. Such companies operate by taking advantage of UK companies with EU trademark and design registrations; they send communication that unsuspecting professionals could easily misconstrue as genuine to trick them into paying for unnecessary UK registrations.
As a member of BACFI (The Bar Association for Commerce, Finance and Industry), our Head of Commercial Law Amanda Williams was made aware of the trademark and renewal scam and quickly brought it to our attention.
While the CITMA have written to SYP following the most recent round of letters and have informed the UKIPO, our advice in the meantime reflects the official guidance given by CITMA: should you receive a letter from Stern Young & Partners, it is imperative that you do not respond and ideally send the letter on to the CITMA.
Most importantly, we urge recipients of this letter not to make a payment to Stern Young & Partners under any circumstances.