02 September, 2008
New rules on trade marks come into force on 1st October 2008. The Trade Mark Rules 2008 are intended to make trade mark rules more accessible and to remove discrepancies in the existing legislation. A trade mark is a sign which can distinguish your goods and services from other traders. A trade mark can be a logo, name or a picture, for example, Coca-Cola, BMW and Easyjet are all protected as registered trade marks.
The most significant change is the reduction of the opposition period from three months to two months. After a trade mark application is made, as long as there are no objections from the examiner, the Trade Mark is published in the Trade Mark Journal. There is currently an opposition period of three months where a third party is given the opportunity to object to the registration of the Trade Mark. If no one opposes the application within the three month period, the Trade Mark is granted and a certificate is issued. Figures from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) have shown that that 90% of marks are unopposed and therefore the period has been reduced to reflect the actual number of oppositions made. A third party can still apply for an additional month if it wishes to oppose Trade Mark but wishes to consider its position further before lodging the opposition.
Other changes include greater flexibility to the IPO to deal with case management and the power to set aside decisions when the proprietor can prove that they were unaware that their mark or application to register a mark was under attack.
A summary of all the changes can be found on the IPO website. For further advice and assistance in registering a trade mark, please contact the Business Law Team.