Thursday, 9 June 2011

Italy introduces trade mark oppositions

A bit late, I thought, because Directive 89/104/EEC should have been implemented in national law in 1992, which means that the Trade Marks Act 1994 was late too. But reading the Directive again - something I haven't done for a long, long time - I see that there's nothing in it to require Member States to permit oppositions: and I also notice that Article 4 - the one about relative grounds - says that a trade mark shall not be registered where there is a conflict with an earlier right as set out in that Article.

That looks to me very much like a direction to Member States to keep the register clear of conflicts. Was the UK actually allowed to change from the old approach of refusing applications ex officio where there was a conflict to the opposition-based system that we have now? I've always considered that a breach of contract with earlier trade mark owners, who'd registered on the understanding that the Registry would stop others impinging on their exclusive rights. It increased the costs of trade mark ownership enormously, left a lot of trade mark owners exposed, and opened the way to a lot of very dodgy practices by trade mark bullies. It would be interesting to look into the legality of the change, and what debate took place at the time, but I'd like to see a challenge this detrimental change to our system.

Hat tip to Natalie Dreyfus, author of Dreyfus.Blog, for bringing this to my attention.

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