Along with the usual fascinating statistics as to what’s hot when it comes to trade mark classes, the Patent Office’s latest report reveals there’s gold in them registrations.
Topic: Intellectual property
Who: The UK Patent Office
When: October 2001
The UK Patent Office, responsible for registering trade marks, patents and designs, published its annual report for 2000/2001. The report demonstrates the ever-increasing popularity of applying for one-stop EU wide registration of trade marks through the Community Trade Mark (“CTM”) office in Alicante, rather than filing papers in London. Filed applications for UK trade marks were up only 4% on the previous year at 33,067, while the number of checks made by Alicante on the UK Register (part of the process of getting a CTM) “climbed to 45,800” according to the report, though it is coy about the percentage increase over the previous year. Of the 42 different classes of goods or services for which registration is possible, the IT/electronic/scientific class 9 remained the most popular with 6,586 classes published, but “advertising, business management, business administration etc.” rose to fifth place in the popularity chart with 3,896. Design registration continued to be the Cinderella of the intellectual property rights family with applications rising only marginally to 9,380. The most popular designs continued to be for mobile phones and computers, with household furnishings a strong climber and packaging and container designs also good performers, particularly for drinks and toys such as dolls and board games. Perhaps most notable of all however were the financial results. Turnover was up 3.5% at £54.4m with a stonking “retained surplus” (“profit” to you and me) of £15.9m, up from a by no means miserable £13.4m the previous year.
Why this matters:
In previous marketinglaw reports we have commented on the increasing popularity of filing a CTM application instead of a UK application when first considering registering a trade mark. Although the big downside is that a conflicting existing registration in a single EU state defeats the whole application, the CTM initial checking procedures are much less exhaustive than those of the UK Registry. This puts the onus much more on brandowners who might be badly affected by a CTM getting on the register to take action themselves to oppose registrations. This does not necessarily happen unless brand owners have monitoring systems in place which will ensure they are told as soon as a potentially conflicting CTM appears on the horizon. Finally, the high "retained surpluses" suggest that something ought to give, either in the form of significant enhancements in the service provided or by way of reduced filing fees!