Since 1 October 2008, owners of valuable trade marks need to be quicker off the mark to oppose applications which may infringe their trade marks. The reason for this is that the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has reduced the time for registering opposition to an application from three months to two.
The change will permit quicker registrations for the vast majority of trade marks, 90 per cent of which are not opposed.
When a trade mark application is raised, the UKIPO will circulate any holders of similar marks, but this process cannot be regarded as infallible. In the absence of an opposition from an existing trade mark owner, the mark will be registered automatically at the expiry of the opposition period. If an opposition is raised, the applicant will have two months (previously six weeks) to raise a defence to the opposition and unless that is done, the application will be deemed to have been withdrawn.