A Tallahassee judge ruled today that a Coconut Creek-based company and its president, Bernd Taubert, violated the state’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act by sending out mass mailings that appeared to be invoiced.
According to a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Bill McCollum’s office, hundreds of companies all over the world made payments to Federated Institute for Patent and Trademark Registry, believing they were being billed for legitimate services.
The company, which, according to state records, was dissolved in 2008, was under investigation by the state’s economic crimes division after victims complained that they had received invoices for money due to register their trademarks.
During a three-day trial this week, victims testified that they had applied for trademark registrations or patents from legitimate government agencies, and they believed Federated’s mailings had to do with those applications.
Some of the victims included the Crocs shoe company, Sony Entertainment, and the estate of Astrid Lundgren, the Swedish author of the “Pippi Longstocking” children’s books. The Lundgren estate alone paid Federated $25,000 after receiving mailings for charges due for trademarking the names of the characters in the books.
As many as 1,000 companies are believed to have made payments to the company. In all, Federated and Taubert received close to $2.6 million from the scheme, most of which was transferred to Swiss bank accounts, according to McCollum’s office.
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