This is where I am coming from. I have received this message on LinkedIn (names changed):
1st degree connection
Co-Founder & CEO at XYZ Patent drawing service #USPTO,EPO,IPOS,CIPO,IP Australia&PCT #High quality illustration
Paula Monica✏ sent the following message at 12:10 PM
I hope you are well and safe there.
If you agree,we can provide you with the patent drawings(Utility&Design)you need at a reasonable price .!
Utility drawing : $21/page
Design drawing : $26/page
Service we offer :
☆Plant Utility patent drawings
☆Mechanical patent drawings
☆Screenshot utility patent drawings
☆ Graph utility patent drawings
☆ Electrical circuit diagrams
☆ Flow chart
☆ Design patent drawings
Martin currently need any patent drawings for your patent applications ?!
We draw patent drawings without office actions.
Can you give us a chance to work with you ?!
While I usually just reply to such unsolicitated sales offers by sending a short “thank you”, this time it was different. Her LinkedIn message triggered me because I am trying to find out certain patterns, in an attempt simplify my life: how can I get certain messages deleted before I even need to see them? I am receiving about 200 spam email messages per day (!) and the important messages get easily lost in that noise.
But, indeed, I need a new technical draftsman for patent drawings.
The Due Diligence Starts Here
My first questions were: Who is that “Paula Monica” and from where is she?
I live in Asia for more than 20 years and it is an easy guess to say that she is from India and she is probably using a fake name. I have seen so many similar cases before.
This is what I have replied, without further investigating “Paula Monica”:
Martin Schweiger sent the following messages at 10:59 AM
hello Lakshmi, Saanvi, Aadyam or whatever your real name is.
please contact us at email@example.com, our marketing manager is waiting for your message
“Paula Monica” came back immediately:
Paula Monica✏ sent the following message at 11:23 AM
Call me Monica and that’s my name.!
Well,our project manager will contact him.!
Ok, that sounds promising. I went into due diligence mode.
Step #1 is always verifying the identity of a person. This is why we have IP Lawyer conventions, right? Anti-Money-Laundering laws also require us, patent attorneys, to apply higher standards than other professions.
This is what I sent back:
Martin Schweiger sent the following message at 12:01 PM
wow, please send some evidence, I cannot believe it
And her answer was:
Paula Monica✏ sent the following message at 12:50 PM
What use is it if I prove it to you ?! LM
So far for the due diligence part.
Not only has “Paula Monica” disqualified herself by not recognizing the due diligence standard problem for patent attorneys, she has also not understood how the free market works.
She has not a claim against me for getting my work and my money (this is what she ultimately wants). She is probably a millennial and she may therefore suffer from the entitlement syndrome. We cannot work with such people because this leads to unhealthy business relationships that will ultimately fail.
Next, she does not realize that she has to overcome a few hurdles before she can have our work and money.
One of these hurdles is to generate trust. And she had certainly failed that one, miserably.
No business with us, girl. So sorry for that.
Four (4) Steps To See The Bigger Picture
Day after day, I am receiving cold acquisition emails that offer cheap patent services from a business address in Asia.
Here is what I usually do. All done on the Internet.
Step #1: The first check would be to find out whether this company really exists. Very often there is not even a company behind that individual. Do they have a website? Is there a company register entry?
Step #2: Much truth about such companies can be found out on glassdoor.com
Here is my firm´s Glassdoor page: https://www.glassdoor.sg/Reviews/Schweiger-and-Partners-Reviews-E641696.htm
Type in the company name of your intended supplier into the Glassdoor company search field and you will find very clear remarks that would tell you a lot about that company. Do you want to work with a company that is cheating its customers? Glassdoor will tell you that because their ex-employees will share it.
Step #3: Check Google Reviews
Here are my firm´s Google Review pages: our Singapore office (click here) and our Munich office (click here). Type in the company name of your intended supplier plus their business location into the Google Search field and you will find more information about that company. Do they have a Google Business entry or not? Do they regularly ask their clients for a rating or do they not care about what their clients are saying? Do they reply to their clients’ comments or not? Google Business Reviews will tell you that.
Step #4: Office location
This is something that is currently changing, due to Covid-19. In the old days, this worked fine: Google Maps and Streetview. Here are my firm´s Google Streetviews: our Singapore office (click here) and our Munich office (click here). Please note that Google Streetview is not fully reliable as you can see with our Munich office. This is very obvious in our own case. Google Streetview today still shows the old building that has been replaced by a modern office building in 2015.
Warning Sign: Fake Name
And then there are a few warning signs, of which using a fake name is the worst.
Apart from the fact that I do not need inflationary offers for prior art searches or patent drafts for incredibly cheap prices, these people are not aware of the fact that it is important for people from Western cultures whether one does business under his genuine name or under a fake name.
Those sales requests are always sent by someone with an English first name and with an English surname, such as “Jimmy Campbell” from Mumbai, “Jack Stephen” from Bangalore, “Graham Majors” from Hyderabad, “Nick Stephen” from Kolkata, “Aaron Fisher” from Bhopal, “Andre Paul” from Srinagar, “Joe Jose” from Visakhapatnam, “John Williams” and “Andrew Jones” from Thiruvananthapuram, “Veronica Adam” from Pune, “Jenny Baldwin”, “Sophie Ewans” and “Ethan Taylor” from New Delhi, “Christie Martin” from Chennai, “Harry Jolly” from Nagpur, “Pamela Jones” from Chandigarh etc. etc. Sometimes they have even set up social media accounts under these names and if they have then you would see faces with physiognomies that are not seen often in Western countries.
These are all not typical Indian names, such as “Vishal Bardway”, “Aarti Pahuja”, “Nisha Varmal”, “Sonal Agarwal” or “Rahul Devranathan”.
Western Names Are Common In India
I have done some background research and asked some of my associates from India about this matter.
Here is one example reply:
@Martin Schweiger Please note some people here really have English names. We have a big community of Christians who adopt such names. My ex boss was 100% Indian and his name was Mark Kohlhoff (His gread grandfather was from UK). My neighbor is from North India and her name is Monica.
Why does she have to prove her name?
I agree that some Indian companies use fake Western names to contact clients. But you cannot generalize this.
This girl is a novice. Taken two courses in WIPO and USPTO and has started her company…
The result is always the same. That practice of adopting a fake name is seen as totally acceptable, according to Indian standards.
Asking for evidence is seen as some sort of intrusion.
I am not surprised.
The Bait Must Be Tasty For The Fish (and Not For The Fisherman)
Here is rule #1 for successful sales: always offer what people want. And not what you want.
And this is how Westerners are ticking: disguising your genuine name for achieving a perceived advantage is seen as an attempt of fraud.
This disqualifies a person who does that and also the company who is represented by this person.
Especially when this is part of an unsolicited advertisement email.
Call to Action
Check the four steps above for your own firm in the Internet.
Step #1: Do you have a website? Can your company register entry be found?
Step #2: What does your glassdoor.com account say about your firm?
Step #3: Does your firm have a Google Business entry or not? Do you regularly your clients for a rating? Do you reply to your clients’ comments or not?
Step #4: How does your Google Streetviews look like?
And finally: do you solicit work to others? How are you doing that? Did you ask yourself whether your contact wants what you have to offer them? Or are you going to steal their time?
Martin “Legal Marketing” Schweiger