Sunday, March 08, 2009

Trademark fee cut in the United Kingdom: Could price wars loom? [United Kingdom]

A price war looked set to break out on Monday over trademark fees, as the UK’s Intellectual Property Office proposes its first cuts in charges for more than a decade. The move comes just days after European Union countries agreed to let the European trademark office – formally known as the Office of Harmonisation for the Internal Market – cut its fees by 40 per cent.

The cuts by the IPO are expected in particular to benefit small and medium-sized companies that often find the costs of protecting their intellectual property onerous. The IPO will unveil on Monday proposals to reduce its fees for trademark applications made electronically by 15 per cent, and offer additional price reductions for companies that want to oppose applications.

It will also give companies more ability to pay only part of the application fee up-front, meaning that less money should lost when applications are abandoned. The proposed reductions will be subject to consultation before coming into force in October.

The Alicante-based OHIM issues the “community trademark”, an intellectual property right that applies across the 27-country EU bloc, while the IPO – like other national offices in Europe – administers lower-cost trademarks that give domestic protection only. Some EU countries were concerned that the OHIM’s move, which was prompted by unexpected popularity of the community trademark and subsequent financial surpluses at the office, might undercut business at their national offices. The UK move comes after a decline in domestic applications for patent and trademark applications, which fell 12 per cent last year.

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