December 23, 2009 - A judge in Tallahassee, Florida ruled on December 18 that a company called the Federated Institute for Patent and Trademark Registry and its president, Bernd Taubert, violated the state's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act by sending out direct mail pieces that looked like invoices for trademark registration.
The 1,000 or so victims of the scam had all filed legitimate patent or trademark applications, and believed the mailings were in connection with those filings. But when they sent a check to Federated, it was mostly diverted to Swiss bank accounts - with no goods or services in return.
Federated and Taubert pocketed around $2.6 million from the scam, whose victims included big names like Crocs and Sony Entertainment. The estate of Astrid Lundgren, the author of the "Pippi Longstocking" books, was another victim - to the tune of $25,000.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is seeking full restitution for all victims, plus penalties and an order for the assets in the Swiss bank accounts to be returned to the U.S.