The following comment was posted by IPKat on 1st October 2007 regarding changes to UK Trade Mark laws.

“Today’s the day that the The Trade Marks (Relative Grounds) Order 2007 enters into force. What this means is that the UK-IPO will no longer automatically block trade mark applications in relation to which there is a conflict with an earlier mark on the relative grounds. Instead, the owner of the earlier mark will be notified (if it’s a UK mark) and will be given the option of launching an opposition. The change has at least two principle aims: to give a level playing field to UK applicants, since OHIM does not routinely block applications on the relative grounds ex officio, and to make the system more market orientated – only marks which are valued enough by their owners to sink money into an opposition will be allowed to block applications.

The IPKat sees the wisdom in the changes. In an ideal world relative grounds examination would continue to take place, but there seem to be sound financial/competitive reasons for stopping it. However, he’s a bit concerned that the interests of consumers never seems to have got a look in. Even if a trade mark owner doesn’t think it worth protecting his earlier mark, if the earlier mark remains in use, a subsequent conflicting application and mark could confuse consumers.”

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