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The proposal to delete the requirement of graphical representation of a trade mark registered in the European Union
The present proposal of 27 March 2013 to recast Directive 2008/95/EC, which is seeking to partially harmonise the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks, and Regulation (EC) No 207/2009 (on the Community trade mark) is driven by objectives such as modernising and improving the existing provisions of the Directive by amending outdated provisions, increasing legal certainty and clarifying trade mark rights in terms of their scope and limitations. In particular, the proposal considers amending Articles 3 of the Directive and 4 of the Regulation to remove the obligation to represent a trade mark graphically. (more…)
Before filing a trade mark application or using a mark, it is advisable to conduct independent searches on the relevant official Register (or Registers if more that one territory is of interest). Whilst these searches are not compulsory or necessary in order to file a trade mark application, it is certainly a useful tool to establish whether or not there are any earlier identical or confusingly similar marks that may bar your own use or registration for the desired mark.
Independent searches available for new marks include:
1) Identical search – this is a coarse filter looking for identical marks in identical goods or services only; or
2) Full availability search – this looks for both identical and confusingly similar marks in identical/similar goods or services.
In general, an identical search is great if you have a variety of marks, as it can reduce the list significantly, or if you have already been using the mark unregistered for a period of time and do not wish to change it and full availability searches are recommended for new marks that have not yet been put to use and can be changed should a conflicting mark be identified. However, ad-hoc advice on the best searching strategy is strongly recommended.
It is also possible to conduct a proprietor search in order to review the marks of your competitors. Again, a useful tool to ensure that you do not step on anyone’s toes and that they are not straying too close to your own marks.
Whilst not exhaustive, it may also be advisable to check trade directories and the Internet against the possibility of existing trade marks which are in use and enjoy protections but are not registered.
Charlotte Blakey 14 November 2012
In our day jobs we often meet prospective new clients who have registered the name of their new start up company at Companies House and have then commenced a programme of advertising to jump start their business. Although checking, via Companies House, that your company name has not already been taken is obviously important it should be borne in mind that availability of a name at Companies House does not necessarily mean you are free to use that name in the course of business. Neither does registration of a company name at Companies House provide the right to prevent others from trading under the same name.
Prior to adopting a new name, it is therefore prudent to speak to a trade mark attorney to ensure that the name is free for adoption and, further, to ensure that you put in place the best form of protection to enable you to prevent others from using a similar name in future.
Further information can be found here.