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1 October, 2009

On 1 October 2009 the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) introduced a new service called ‘Right Start’, as well as changes to its existing fee structure for filing UK trade mark applications. Right Start is aimed at giving applicants an indication of the likely success of their application. The fee changes include a fee reduction for e-filing. The IPO has also changed the costs and practices of filing series marks and has increased the fee for extension of time. It has also temporarily suspended the fast-track examination service.

Right Start
The new Right Start service allows applicants to pay a fee reduced by 50% (i.e. £100) on e-filing their application. To decide whether or not they wish to proceed with the publication of the mark, the remaining 50% of the application fee is payable within 14 days from the date of issue of the IPO’s report on the registrability of the mark. The aim is to give applicants an indication as to the likely success of their application before committing to payment of the full application fees. The applicant will also be able to discuss the results of the examination report informally with the Examiner.

E-filing
As of 1 October 2009, all standard trade mark applications which are e-filed receive a £30 reduction of the official application fee of £200. The additional class fee remains unchanged at £50. Please note that this discount does not apply to applications filed under the new Right Start service.

Series Marks
Series marks will be retained for the time being, albeit with some restrictions. Each mark in the series beyond the first two is now subject to an additional £50 fee and the maximum number of marks in the series has been restricted to six.  In an attempt to discourage misuse of the series mark system, applicants can no longer ‘divide out’ any marks which are not considered to form a series with the remaining marks. These will need to be deleted.

Extension of time
The fee for extension of time has been increased to £100. No fee has been introduced for extensions of the cooling-off period or requests for stay of proceedings in order to encourage parties to negotiate. The IPO considered reducing the official opposition fee from £200 to £100, but did not implement this change in order to avoid ‘speculative’ oppositions.

Fast-track examination service suspended

The fast-track examination service was introduced in 2008 and guarantees that an examination report is issued within 10 working days from receipt of the application. As the average standard examination time is currently about the same as the fast track service, the IPO has decided to temporarily suspend the fast-track service. If average examination times increase, the fast-track service will be reinstated.