The UK Intellectual Property Office ("UK IPO") has announced significant changes to the way it examines UK trademark applications. Starting October 1, 2007, the UK IPO will no longer refuse UK trademark applications based on the existence of identical or similar prior rights. Instead, the UK IPO will launch a new "search and notify" system that shifts the burden of objecting to new applications onto the prior rights owners. Whether a prior rights owner will automatically be notified of potentially conflicting new trademark applications will depend on the scope of the prior rights. Owners of prior applications or registrations covering the UK specifically will automatically be notified. However, owners of prior applications or registrations covering the European Union ("CTM") will not be notified unless they expressly "opt-in" and pay a service fee of £50 every three years.
As an alternative to paying the £50 service fee to "opt-in", a worldwide watch service would provide notice of potentially conflicting trademark applications anywhere in the world, not just in the UK.