News Zone

June Newsletter 2019 03 Jul 2019

International Trade Mark Association Annual Meeting 2019 

Zone hosted another successful reception at the annual INTA conference in Boston. Thank you to everyone who attended our event. We really enjoyed seeing you all! Please CLICK HERE on the link below to see photos from the evening.

ITMA2019

 

Scam Letter Warning

There has been another surge in telephone calls and emails from clients and members of the public who have received fake letters regarding their trade marks.

A number of letters have been sent purporting to be from “PTMO”, the “Patent and Trademark Office”, a company who will renew your trade mark for NZ$1,200 and up. While they will perhaps renew your trade mark, they change an inflated fee and the letter is designed to trick you into handing over extra money.

The Commerce Commission has warned this company in the past, but it seems they are continuing to approach New Zealand trade mark owners.

It can be difficult to spot a scam letter. Official organisations have functional names such as “Intellectual Property Office” which are commonly reduced to acronyms and can be easily imitated so as to deceive.

Moreover, most details about trade mark owners and their trade marks are freely available online through trade mark registers. This allows scammers to tailor letters to the individual “victim”. 

We have also noticed a trend of these letters being sent out increasingly early so as to come ahead of reminder letters from the Government IP Office or from legitimate trade mark agents. Some letters we have seen are being sent nearly 18 months before the mark is actually due for renewal.

Scammers will often put significant effort into their letters. For example, the recent scam letters have an address on Queen Street in Auckland and a local phone number, which makes the letter seem legitimate. Likewise, scam letters sent out in Australia might have an address in Sydney.

 

Tips for avoiding being scammed

Following some guidelines will help you spot a fake letter. A close examination of the fake letters will frequently uncover inconsistencies, oddities and mistakes. For example, in a recent fake letter regarding fees for a Madrid Protocol application the letter requests payment of the fee in Euros. However, all Madrid Protocol fees are in Swiss Francs. In other cases, the payment might be to a foreign bank account.

We note these are often details which may escape an applicant or owner. This emphasises the need to seek professional assistance if you have any concerns.

Read all letters received carefully. Fake letter frequently contain spelling and grammar errors.

Cross-check details such as organisation names and up-coming renewal dates with your own and official records. Ensure you confirm the full name of any official organisation rather than simply the acronym.

Check the website of the entity. A fake organisation will often have a very basic website with little information about who is behind it.

If in doubt call your lawyer or IP professional. By having a lawyer or IP professional as your trade marks agent, any unsolicited correspondence from someone other than your agent will automatically be suspicious.  An agent can also keep you informed as to key dates such as renewals.

Any correspondence request payment should be treated with caution and checked for authenticity prior to payment.

 

Renewals

With respect to New Zealand renewal requests, we recommend using Renewal Zone.

Renewal Zone is an online trade mark renewal service to assist people to renew their New Zealand trade marks quickly and affordably. You simply enter your IP number and Renewal Zone will tell you when your trade mark is due for renewal and the cost involved. You can then renew your trade mark through the site.

The site is linked to IPONZ’s trade mark register and is secure, up-to-date and reliable.

Renewal Zone can be found at www.renewalzone.co.nz.  

 

Employment Law update 2019

There have been recent changes to employment law in New Zealand due to the enactment of the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 and the Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act 2018.
 
As a result, the Employment Relations Act 2000 now includes more protections for employees in the following areas;

  • Set rest and meal breaks – breaks must be given to employees based on the number of hours worked. Employees must be paid for minimum rest breaks but not for meal breaks.
  • Trial periods – use of a 90 day trial period is now restricted to employees and businesses with fewer than 19 employees.
  • Reinstatement for unfairly dismissed employees – where the Employment Relations Authority considers a case for unfair dismissal, if requested reinstatement must be the first course of action considered by the Authority. However, the Authority will still assess whether this is reasonable for both the employer and employee.
  • Domestic Violence Leave – there are now legal protections for employees affected by domestic violence. Employees who qualify and are affected by domestic violence are now entitled to 10 days of paid domestic violence leave each year. Entitlement will depend on how long an employee has worked for an employer as well as the number of hours worked.


The above changes will affect all employers, including small businesses using individual employment contracts. There are also some additional changes which strengthen employee collective bargaining and union rights in the workplace. Finally, employers should be aware that the minimum wage has also increased pursuant to the Minimum Wage Order 2019.
 
As a result, now is a good time for employers to review the employment agreements used by them to ensure they remain compliant with employment law in New Zealand.