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UK Trademark


Under the English law, protection of trademarks originates from the common law concept of "Passing off" which, as Lord Halsbury had put it may be summarized as follows: "nobody has any right to represent his as the goods of somebody else". It is based upon the tortious liability of "injurious falsehood" where one uses unscrupulous/unfair means to reap the benefits of another's labour and/or reputation.

Registration in United Kingdom

Although the system of registering trademarks was adapted way back in 1875, the British approach has been to treat common law protection of a trademark simultaneously wherever trading reputation so justified it. Registration however gives a more assured and straightforward protection. Presently, there are three systems of registering a trademark in the United Kingdom: a) National application for registration under the Trade Marks Act, 1994; b) International application under the Madrid Protocol administered by WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) and c) Community Trademark applications (CTM) which is a common filing mechanism for the signatory countries of the European Union. Any person, natural or legal, may apply to register a mark for the goods or services specified in the application. There is no requirement to prior use of the mark before applying and thus a bona fide intention to use a mark is sufficient for filing an application for registration. If it is later proved that such bona fide intention was lacking, the application would be treated as made in bad faith and rejected and where registration has been affected, the mark may be expunged.

An application must contain the following: a request for registration, the applicant's name & address, a statement of the goods and/or services required to be included in the registration and a representation of the mark. If complete in these respects, the application would receive a filing date. This filing date is important where there are competent claimants to an identical/similar mark where neither of the claimants can establish an earlier user. In such cases, the earlier applicant gets precedence.

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