Trade mark registration can take a long time. A problem when, as consumers, we’re used to immediacy, and we are frequently asked why it takes such a long time to get a trade mark registered. In truth, it doesn’t take a long time at all, especially when you take a look at the process.

Trade mark registration process

UK applications are filed at the Intellectual Property Office (“IPO”), and it is possible to gain registration in as little as three to four months. This sort of timescale assumes either that no objections have been raised by the IPO or third parties, or that where there have been objections, these have been dealt with straight away. A more general timescale is six months. We can see why this length of time is typical, by taking a look at the process through to registration.

After all, you are getting a powerful right

First of all, registration of a trade mark is not like registering company names and domain names, where you only have to ensure that your name is not an exact match. Each trade mark is scrutinised to see whether it conforms to the strict requirements laid down in UK trade mark law. The trade mark must pass a thorough examination, as the monopoly which you are given through registration is an incredibly strong one. Your trade mark can last forever, as long as it is kept in use and renewed every ten years. The IPO is not empowered to grant such strong rights unless the mark involved meets high standards, as to do otherwise would be anti-competitive.

Stringent examination

Examiners at the IPO can reject a trade mark application on many grounds, including if it is descriptive, laudatory or generally a generic word that should be free for all to use. They also examine the wording of the specification, to make sure that all the terms within the list are clear. This is important as the specification establishes the scope of your rights, in the event that you use your trade mark to sue someone.

Advertisement to allow opposition

Following examination, the application is advertised in an online journal for a minimum period of two months. During this time, competitors may begin formal proceedings at the IPO by filing an opposition. Alternatively, they may ask you to withdraw the application or amend the scope of your rights in some way. If agreement cannot be reached within two months, the business objecting can extend the time to three months.

Once the application passes through the advertisement period, if it has not met with any objections, the mark can be registered, and a certificate is issued.

Don’t delay your trade mark registration

With this in mind, the process of trade mark registration is, in fact, efficient and streamlined. That said, the time taken to registration should be factored in to business plans, to ensure that any applications are filed in good time to achieve protection before a product or service is launched.

For help with getting your trade mark protection in place:

Ward Trade Marks  Limited is a Bury St Edmunds based specialist trade mark attorney firm.