Archive | 2008, June | (4) posts

Summertime and fake invoices

With the peak holiday period approaching and regular personnel absent from their posts, many phoney companies are taking advantage by sending out fake invoices and mails to unwitting temporary staff. Over time their methods have become increasingly refined and it can sometimes be difficult to know which invoices are fakes and which are genuine.

These fake invoices often relate to domain names or brands. For instance, the people behind these phoney companies note when a brand name is registered or publicised. They follow it up by sending out an invoice-like document through the post which appears to originate from some public authority and which in many cases mentions publicising of the brand on a given website. The amount specified on the fake invoice usually approximates the amount that would be invoiced by the authority in question.

I receive many phone calls from exasperated brand name holders wondering what they can do about these fake invoices. They are left wondering if such an invoice is in any way binding without their approval? Or should they simply disregard it and not pay?

I usually reply that where an “invoice” concerns the publicising of a brand name or similar, frequently it is formulated to give the impression of an offer (often this only becomes apparent when you read the fine print on the “invoice”) and therefore it can simply be filed away and forgotten.

As far as domain names are concerned, the approach by the phoney company commonly involves them claiming to have been appointed to register one or more domain names, but that because the domains are similar to those of the approached company or its brand(s), they make an offer to the owner to register the domains in his/her name instead. In reality, the phoney company has not been appointed to register the aforementioned domains by any other party. The first thing you should do is to determine whether you require the domains mentioned in the offer. If this is the case, you should immediately contact your regular domain provider and arrange for registration of the domains. You should not reply to the offer (which is normally sent by mail) nor inform the sender that you will arrange for registration yourself, as this will indicate to the sender that there is interest in the domains on your part and they will then seek to pre-empt you by registering the domain name(s) that you are interested in. It is then very likely that they will demand money from you in return for transferring the domain name(s) to your company.

Should you receive a call from a phoney salesperson, take care not to say anything that can be misconstrued as approval on your part. It is very easy to say something which, subsequently taken out of context, can be interpreted as placement of an order.

And if you receive an invoice…?
If, despite your best efforts to make clear that you are not placing an order, you still receive an invoice – what should you do? You should immediately contest the invoice by drawing a line through it and writing on it ”Contested, no order placed” and faxing and returning the invoice. You should retain a copy of the contested invoice, as you may at a later date require it as evidence. If the invoice has been assigned to another party, it should be returned to both the original sender and the party to which it has been assigned. You should also consider reporting the matter to the police, as the fake invoice can constitute attempted fraud.

This was a brief summary of how you should respond upon receipt of a fake invoice or suspect offer to register brand and domain names. Should you require further information, I would advise contacting your regular IP Law provider who will be able to provide assistance.

Jonas Kullgren, Attorney at Law

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BIO International Convention – a dazzling experience

“Innovate, heal, fuel, feed the world” - that is the theme of BIO 2008, the world’s largest convention for biotech, and a global life science event taking place right now in San Diego, California. The convention takes place for the 16th time and it is larger than ever before, with more than 20,000 participants from all over the world.

Arriving at the Convention Center, we immediately got the overwhelming feeling that the people gathered here will have an impact on the future of each and all of us.

The enormous exhibition hall was vibrating with IQ, seminars, bar hopping, partnering meetings, discussions and not to forget – tango. The Scandinavian Pavillion held a seminar disclosing the secret of Sweden‘s drug development pipeline. Among the speakers was Ewa Björling, Minister for Trade.

The first day of BIO 2000 ended with a spectacular reception on the USS Midway in the beautiful San Diego Harbor.

We are now trying to digest the impressions from the first day. It is a dazzling experience to meet representatives from literally every corner of the world and to be a part of the international biotech community!

Inga-Lill Andersson, Maria Stenbäck and Karl Olsson, European Patent Attorneys / Attorney at law

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USPTO will not give up

Last fall, the US Patent and Trademark Office, USPTO, announced that they would make drastic changes in the rules concerning patent applications. Briefly, the USPTO rules mean that the applicant’s rights to file different forms of continuation applications are severely limited.

The rules were meant to become effective on 1 November 2007. Tons of companies and organizations protested against the new rules, and one inventor, Dr Triantafyllos Tafas, even went so far as to sue USPTO in a federal district court. Eventually, he was backed by the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.

On 31 October 2007, on the eve of the new rules taking effect, the federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against USPTO, inhibiting the new rules. This verdict was followed by a permanent injunction in the final decision issued 1 April 2008. In brief, the judge has determined that the USPTO has tried to exceed their authority, since the rules affect the basic rights of patent applicants. All patent applicants (and their representatives!) heaved a sigh of relief.

One could of course have hoped that this was the end of the story. However, on 7 May 2008, USPTO filed a Notice of Appeal against the verdict with the appellate court, CAFC, in Washington, DC. The schedule for the appeal case has just become official, and it looks as though a final verdict may be expected around the end of 2008. We’ll keep you posted…

Niklas Mattsson, European Patent Attorney

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Patents + football = Summer time at our offices

On Saturday, the opening game of the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as UEFA EURO 2008TM, will be played between the host Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

At an afterwork recently, I discussed with some patent attorney friends how many goals would be controversial this summer. We all remember the classic English goal in the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final. In the final between the host England and West Germany and with eleven minutes of extra time gone, Alan Ball put in a cross and Geoff Hurst shot from close range, hit the underside of the cross bar, bounced down – apparently on or just over the line – and was cleared. The referee was uncertain if Hurst had scored and consulted his linesman from the USSR, who indicated that he did. After some non-verbal communication (they had no common language…), the referee awarded the goal to the English team. Whether the ball crossed the goal line or not has been a matter of discussion ever since, and the controversial call has become part of World Cup history.

Historically, the referees of a football match decide from visual observation whether or not the ball has passed the goal line. However, as evidenced by the match in 1966 it may be very difficult to determine correctly in situations where the ball is returned quickly and has only just passed, or not passed, the goal line. Therefore, when returning to the office the next day I simply had to perform a ‘quick and dirty’ novelty search at www.espacenet.com to see if someone clever had thought about this problem. Not surprisingly, there are in fact quite some technical solutions (some better than others) out there to overcome situations like that in 1966. Just to list a few patents/patent applications in the field of “detecting with improved precision whether a football has passed a goal line or not”:

WO 2004/076003 A1 ”GOAL DETECTOR FOR DETECTION OF AN OBJECT PASSING A GOAL PLANE”

WO2006094508 A1 ”GOAL DETECTOR FOR DETECTION OF AN OBJECT PASSING A GOAL PLANE”

US2006/0135297 A1 “Goal detection equipment for football”

GB 2 342 050 A “Goal posts”

WO 95/32774 “GOAL-DETECTION DEVICE FOR BALL GAMES”

Neither of the above-listed ‘techniques’ will, however, be put into practice in this summer’s UEFA EURO 2008TM tournament, so the question remains: how many goals will be incorrectly awarded this summer?

Personally, I predict that 72 goals (2.32 goals per match) will be scored in total in Austria/Switzerland this summer and of the 72 goals, let’s say, 3 goals (0.1 goals per match) will be incorrectly awarded (if so, hopefully in favor of Sweden).

What do you think?

Christian Arkelius, Patent Attorney