China: Where Even the Law Firms are Fake

In the movie, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey) gets stabbed countless times by massive spears, knifed a few times, flipped completely over a couple times, and stepped and trampled upon.  He takes all of this with amazing equanimity.  But when his hair gets ruffled, he becomes furious and yells, “NOBODY MESSES WITH THE [hair] DO.”


Counterfeit drugs, money, razor blades, cigarettes, baby food, shoes, music, auto parts, software, purses. None of that shocks anymore.
But today I just learned there are those who take money to register foreign company trademarks in China and then simply run away.  A new client told me he had sent about $750 to what he thought was a legitimate China law firm to have his company’s brand name registered. As soon as the first $750 hit Shanghai, he was asked to send an additional $600 to “cover the filing fees,” which he did.

A week later the website was down and the Shanghai “firm” was gone.

Caveat emptor.

First time I had heard of anything like this. Anyone else heard of such a thing?

UPDATE:  It turns out this scam is actually pretty common and it also turns out that in every case of which I am aware the scammers were neither licensed Chinese lawyers nor licensed Chinese trademark agents. In other words, they are just people who run China trademark registration scams by posing as legitimate China lawyers and/or legitimate China trademark agents, oftentimes with websites so convincing that even our lawyers fluent in Chinese cannot tell that they are fakes.

What are you seeing out there?

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