Beginning October 1, 2007, there will be an important change in the way in which the U.K. Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO) will examine U.K. national trademark applications and International (i.e., WIPO) and E.U. trademark filings designating the U.K.
After that date, the UK-IPO will no longer refuse a trademark application on the basis of an earlier conflicting trademark identified in its search of the relevant registers. Instead, the UK-IPO will notify the owners of earlier marks about the trademark application if it will be published, thus shifting the responsibility to trademark owners to oppose the application should they view it to be potentially conflicting .
The UK-IPO will automatically notify holders of existing U.K. national filings and International filings designating the U.K. about a potentially conflicting application. However, holders of E.U. filings and holders of International filings designating the E.U. as a whole must “opt-in” to receive these notifications. To opt-in to the notification process, mark owners must submit a form and pay a £50 fee, which will entitle them to receive written notice of potentially conflicting marks for a 3-year period.
Given the relatively low cost involved, holders of E.U. filings and holders of International filings designating the E.U. should opt-in to receive notification of third-party marks.