Sunday, 15 August 2010

Spending cuts impact on trade mark system

No area of government spending is to be spared from the cuts necessitated by the country's present predicament. In the intellectual property world - or worlds, I should say, to emphasise that the subject isn't a neatly defined unity - we have already seen the demise, to no discernable sorrow, of the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property. Now, paradoxically, the Patent Office has announced that it will continue to give Community trade mark owners the option to be alerted to conflicting UK trade mark applications.
The reason for public spending cuts resulting in the retention of a service that is very little used is the reduction in spending on government IT projects. To do away with the notifications (which presumably are self-financing, as there is a fee to be paid if you want to receive them) is all tied up with the replacement of the Patent Office IT system, and the future of that project will remain uncertain until after the deadline for making a decision about the future of the opt-in. It was introduced in October 2007, and opt-ins last for three years, so come October this year renewals will fall due unless it is discontinued. So, the cuts will result in the Office retaining a service that people seem to consider is superfluous.
The UK is apparently the only Member State that offers such a service, and given the importance of trade mark owners maintaining watching services these days there can't be much need of it. Ironic that it should be public spending cuts that are keeping it alive.

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