Bona vacantia again

This morning the IPKat asked on behalf of a friend for helpful comments about buying ownerless trade marks as bona vacantia. Apart from the seven comments posted so far at the foot of the original post, the IPKat has already received well over 40 emails -- some quite long and technical and all quite interesting -- about the acquisition of ownerless or abandoned trade marks. Remarkably, this e-postbag is bulging with contributions from four different continents too, and fresh correspondence is still arriving.

Right: could this be one of the original owners?

The IPKat says thanks to all of you and promises to stitch together a selection of the wisdom he has received on the issue, so that it can be shared with all his readers. If you've written in but don't get a personal acknowledgement, please don't take it amiss.  Merpel says, from what she's been reading in the IPKat's in-tray it looks as though buying ownerless trade marks from the State is not rare or unusual activity but a pretty routine exercise of professional skill. She wonders, though, that if so many people want to buy these marks and are prepared to pay a decent price for them, can it be assumed that they are more valuable in their new owners' hands than in the possession of whoever previously owned them?
Bona vacantia again Bona vacantia again Reviewed by Jeremy on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. Scots law has its own official for dealing with lost or abandoned property, the quaintly named Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer. Details of law and practice here - - but I don't see any mention of trade marks (although presumably they will be included in "company assets" from time to time.

  2. Often they are abandoned in error. Often, if one was to approach the company before it was struck off, one would be faced with a higher demand. Once it is struck off, the previous “owners” can only get their asset back, for example to try to sell it to the prospective buyer, if they go through the time and cost of getting the company restored (which they presents a barrier to them). I was involved in a wonderful case once in which my client was sued for patent infringement and, on investigating the title to the patent, we realised that the patent was not owned by the claimant, but had been owned by a previous company which had the same name. That company had been stuck off whilst the owner of the patent. We were able to take an assignment from the TS. So, subject to a predictable blaze of arguments, my client owned the patent it was being sued for infringement of. The claimant had some arguments, but, funnily enough, the case settled quickly, but the moral of the story is check the title of the IP right whether claimant or defendant and, if there are corporates in the chain of title, follow the company number not the corporate name.


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