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Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Another relative grounds consultation

The UK-IPO has launched a mini-consultation pertaining to the changes to the examination of trade marks on the relative grounds.

The Office has already consulted on whether the Trade Marks Registry should adopt a ‘search and notify’ role, i.e. it will search the Register for conflicting earlier marks, and then will notify the applicant and earlier mark-holder, but won’t block the applied-for mark from being registered. However, the earlier consultation revealed widespread support for the owners of earlier CTMs and international marks designating the EC as a whole having to opt in to benefit from this notification.

The present consultation is on how much CTM and international-EC mark-holders should have to pay to opt in. The UK-IPO is putting forward a fee of £200.

Comments are due by 20 June [NOT 6 June as originally posted].

The IPKat thinks that this is pretty steep. In fact, it’s the same fee as to apply for a UK trade mark in a single class. The Kat understands the perceived need to compete with OHIM, and not to disadvantage British trade mark applicants by putting them in a worse position than applicants for CTMs, but he reckons such a fee will bite for British holders of CTMs and international-EC marks, and who might be more likely to opt in. Thus, it’s far from clear that UK plc will be the winner here.

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