Dramatic change in UK trademark policy; Australia eliminates obligation to disclose search reportsOctober 23, 2007

There have been two interesting changes in foreign IP practice over the past month.

Effective October 1, 2007, the UK Trade Marks Office changed its policy such that it will no longer raise objections to applications based on prior existing applications/registrations. Instead, it will be the policy to write to owners of earlier potentially conflicting marks advising them of the application so that the owners can file Oppositions if desired.The UK office will write to owners of prior existing UK trademarks, but will only write to the owners of Community Trademarks if the owners have paid to opt into the notification system. The cost of opting in for a 3 year period will be approximately $250.

In Australia, IP Australia has revised its regulations to eliminate the requirement to disclose searches performed by other patent offices. This change is effective on October 22, and applies to any application where the last day to comply with the previous duty to inform the office was on October 22 or before. Previous applications still must comply with the requirement, and the change does not excuse a failure to comply in those applications.

Peter Zura has an interesting post regarding the rulemaking process in Australia regarding this change, and how the views of practitioners and the public were taken into account (in contrast to how the USPTO has promulgated its most recent rules).

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