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Trademark fast-track launched, but value questioned

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Trademark applicants will soon be able to pay an extra £300 to be fast-tracked through the system, but one expert has said the new plan will only shave a few weeks from a process that can take years.

The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has announced that trademark applicants will be able to pay £300 to cut the waiting time for an examination of the trademark from a month or more to 10 days.

"This will help us turn around trademark applications more quickly while still providing our customers with a very high quality service," said Ian Fletcher, chief executive of the UKIPO. "We also want to look at other ways of speeding up the process for registering trademarks."

Lee Curtis, a trademark attorney at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said that the scheme has limited value, though.

"Getting a trademark can take anywhere between six months and a few years. This proposal only reduces that by a few weeks, so will not make a massive difference to the total wait that applicants face. It just means that you pay £300 for an examination within 10 days," said Curtis.

"I don't know that it will be a huge success because an application still has to go through the whole process – including a three month advertising process – which is unchanged by this fast-track option," he said.

The Government carried out a consultation (pdf) on the plan, and one respondent raised similar questions to Curtis's, according to a Government consultation document.

"Two respondents questioned the value of the service (one suggested there was no value at all) without an accompanying reduction in the 3 month opposition period.

"This observation was made because the time saving inherent in the proposed fast-track service was only a very small part of the overall length of time to secure a registration. One of these respondents made similar observations in relation to the time period that elapses between acceptance and publication."

The Government is proceeding with the plan, though, which is its interpretation of a recommendation in the Gowers Report into intellectual property. The report was published in late 2006 by former Financial Times editor Andrew Gowers on behalf of the Treasury.

The process will add £300 to existing trademark application costs, as outlined in UKIPO guidance. "This is on top of the standard application fee of £200 and any classes fees (£50 per class)," it said.

"For example, a fast-track application containing two classes will cost £550 (fast-track fee £300, application fee £200 & one additional class fee of £50)."

The new system will come into force on 7 April this year.

Copyright © 2008, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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