Monday, 9 March 2009

Trade mark fees coming down

OHIM has made so much money, because the Community Trade mark has been so popular, that it is reducing fees by some 40 per cent in May. From October, the UK Trade Marks Registry will be doing sikewise, though not by so much - about 15 per cent, according to today's FT.

Of course, this is seen as a Good Thing, with small businesses better able to afford to protect their trade marks. But I don't think it will be an unalloyed Good Thing: large businesses will be able to file more applications, and many of them will be unmeritorious. The blight of bad trade marks will get worse, and although opposition fees will come down the need to institute opposition proceedings will grow. Who will benefit? Most people would say the lawyers.

I don't necessarily subscribe to that view. There are lawyers who enjoy disputes, of course, whose raison d'être is litigation. I consider myself a preventive lawyer, which I think is better for my health and my clients' wealth, but while I can see that my clients might now file more trade mark applications (and therefore do a little preventive work) the overall effect will be to make trade mark law more, not less, contentious.

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