16 January 2008

Faster trade marks? Hardly!

The UK Intellectual Property Office has announced that it will introduce a short-cut to trade mark examination from 7 April this year (although the legal changes, in the form of the Trade Marks (Fees) (Amendment) Rules 2008, will come into force the day before, which is a Sunday). Judging by the reception the idea has received, it should perhaps start on the previous Tuesday.

There will be an additional fee of £300, in return for which the applicant will see their application examined within ten days, where it might take a month or more at present. It's a high price to pay to save perhaps three weeks, but the main problem with the idea - which was also aired when the Gowers Review first floated the idea - is that speeding up the examination will make little difference to the overall time taken to process an application. The largest piece of time involved in the process will still be the three-month opposition period, about which the UK is powerless to do anything short of assembling a qualified majority to change the Directive, a possibility so unlikely that it can safely be ignored.

Add to that the time it will take to deal with oppositions, which will become more numerous following the UK's "privatisation" of the process of dealing with relative grounds for refusal, and £300 to save three weeks out of a process that currently can't take much less than six months is by no means a bargain offer. I don't anticipate many of my firm's clients going for it, and neither (so it seems) do most practitioners.

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