Early New Year’s Resolutions in Trade Mark Law

As the countdown to Christmas and New Year begins in earnest, anyone with an interest in using Trade Marks as part of their business may have their eye on another not so distant date in the calendar.

On 14 January 2019, the Trade Marks Regulation 2018 will come into force and bring some very interesting developments to UK Trade Mark law. The most interesting of these are summarised below.

Broader Definition of Trade Mark

Certainly the most intriguing of the changes is the removal of the need for a trade mark to be represented graphically. Where previously it was a requirement to be able to represent your mark using words or images, this new law will seek to protect a wider variety of marks that the modern world has given rise to. This could potentially see a burst of trade mark cases concerning any number of new formats, such as distinctive sounds, smells, holograms, movements or any form of multimedia.

More Absolute Grounds for Refusal

Another update of note is the extension of grounds under which the IPO can refuse an application for a trade mark outright. Currently, a mark that consists exclusively of shapes will be refused if the shape a) performs a purely technical function, (b) adds value to the goods or (c) results from the nature of the goods. From January, these grounds for refusal will apply not just to shapes but to any characteristic of the marks. This could mean that any colour or description of a product that is not creative, but is instead a purely technical by-product, could be met with great difficulty when registering a trade mark.

Tighter Counterfeiting Laws

Tougher laws will be introduced in attempts to stop counterfeit goods from ever reaching customers, not just within the UK but worldwide. Whilst the current law cracks down on anyone who uses another person’s trade mark ‘in the course of trade’, from January it will become illegal to even fix an unauthorised trade mark on to packaging, stock items with unauthorised trade marks, or to import or export these items.

Forbes regularly advises on all matters relating to trade mark law and legal updates. Contact us at john.pipckervance@forbessolicitors.co.uk to discuss any issues further.

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