Sunday, 25 January 2015

How little I know about trade marks

6 January 2015, 10.30 am

I attend a meeting of the Trade Marks Committee.  I have not done any trade mark work since they changed the law while I wasn’t looking (perhaps I should have been looking, but in my defence I was having a baby at the time and was a little distracted).  So, I am not able to contribute much, but it is good fun listening anyway.

Things have changed in the trade mark world since I was practising.  It was all about exam reports back then.  You filed a trade mark application; you got an exam report.  The objections were many and varied.  For example, if you tried to register, let’s say, APPLE for computer software, it would be dismissed as:

  • Descriptive for software relating to apples.  (So you would exclude software relating to apples from your specification of goods.)
  • Deceptive for software not relating to apples.  (So you would also exclude software not relating to apples.)
  • Listed in someone’s phone book.
  • The word for something anatomically inappropriate in some West African tribal language.
  • Confusingly similar to MANGO, which is registered for clothes.  (So you would exclude software not relating to apples but relating to mangos.)
  • In colour.
  • In black and white.
  • Not part of a series.
  • Too high up on the page.

These days, I gather trade mark law is much more focused on commercial issues like Is the bloke down the road likely to turn up at your warehouse with a sledgehammer because you’re nicking his customers, or Will you get away with it on Twitter®?  Which I cannot help thinking is slightly nearer the point.

Anyway, it’s alright because the nice people on the Trade Marks Committee are going to start writing beginner-level briefing notes on the major trade mark issues of the day, for CIPA members who would no longer recognise a trade mark if it crossed the road in front of them.  It is perhaps not alright that the Vice-President falls into this category.

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