Stockholm 01 Feb 2018
In a ruling of December 20, 2017, the Court of Appeal in Stockholm (Svea Hovrätt) has sentenced twenty people for fraud for sending false invoices concerning EU trademarks. The invoices appeared to be from the EU Intellectual Property Agency, OHIM, (now EUIPO) and was sent to several hundred people in a number of countries. All recipients had previously applied for EU trademarks to OHIM.
The Court of Appeal’s sentence followed an appeal against the judgment of the Uppsala District Court. The Court of Appeal made a different assessment than the District Court as to whether the recipients had been misled into paying the invoices.
The Court of Appeal reversed the District Court’s reasoning regarding fraud, as the court did not accept the argument of the District Court that the recipients had no actual proof of why they had paid the invoices. Instead, it was considered that since the recipients had paid the invoices and believed that the invoices came from OHIM, this was enough proof.
The main prosecuted person, SR, was therefore convicted of gross fraud in 355 individual cases. Another prosecuted, DN, was convicted of assistance in gross fraud for all cases conducted by SR, and for gross fraud in 33 individual cases where he himself performed the fraud. SR was sentenced to jail for 4 years and 8 months, while DN was sentenced to jail for 2 years and 9 months.
18 other people were also charged with gross fraud and assistance in gross fraud, as these persons had allowed their bank accounts to be used in the fraud activities and, in some cases, also sent the fraudulent invoices. Two of these people were sentenced to prison.
The length of the prison sentences are high in the scale for gross fraud, justified by the Court of Appeal, due to the aggravating circumstances, the large extent of the fraud, the organized approach and the fact that the invoices appeared to be from OHIM.
Finally, the Court of Appeal also ruled damages in all 74 cases where the recipients of the false invoices had brought an action for compensation. The compensation corresponded to the amount paid plus interest.
If you are unsure about an invoice you have received, contact your intellectual property rights adviser. We also have a list of known unserious actors who have sent false invoices earlier: Warning list of false invoices.